Whole Foods Market () reported fiscal Q4 2013 earnings after the bell Wednesday, and results were mixed: the 32 cents per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 31 cents, but revenues came in lighter than the expected $3037 million to $3.0 billion. Guidance was also lower than expected.
Not surprisingly, Whole Foods shares are down in after-market trading -- in fact, they're sinking like a stone, down 8% after a somewhat positive +1.22% in regular-day trading today. Not even a dividend increase of 2 cents per share (up to 12 cents) is apparently enough to keep the evening bears at bay.
Total sales were up 11% from a year ago on a comparative-week basis (Q4 2012 had an extra week in it). In the press release, Whole Foods called it their "best fiscal year performance in our company's 35-year history." No love for historical landmarks among after-market traders, apparently. Tough crowd.
Guidance was also lower for Q1 2014, and that may be a legit reason for investors to be a tad spooked. Whole Foods had seen some upwardly revised earnings estimates for this year and next in recent weeks; we'll certainly keep an eye on if/when and perhaps how much revisions may be cast downward from here. Ahead of the earnings report, Whole Foods had a Zacks #2 Rank and a long-term Neutral recommendation.
Even still, Whole Foods seems to be jumping through hoops just fine, if a tad slower than some people may have expected. New stores continue to open, more revenues continue to flow in, positive earnings surprises keep happening (albeit modestly) and acquisitions such as Wild Oats are already beginning to contribute to the company. More people are looking for healthy food options, and if the economy ever picks up, a lot more will be willing and able to shop at Whole Foods.
But until then, investors will simply have to take their (holistic) medicine and like it -- at least until WFM's stock price gains can start getting healthy again.