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Whole Foods Market Inc. said its fiscal Q4 profit slipped 15%, due to outlays for store openings and incurred legal and administrative costs from its $565 million purchase of Wild Oats Markets in August (full story). Net income fell 15% to $33.9 million ($0.24/share) from $39.8 million ($0.28/share) during the same period in 2006, while revenue rose to $1.74 billion from $1.29 billion. Analysts were expecting earnings of $0.30/share on revenue of $1.61 billion. CEO John Mackey, in a conference call with analysts (transcript), offered an upbeat view of sales at stores WFMI acquired from Wild Oats, and said a weak U.S. economy isn't hurting his company. "One of the myths out there about Whole Foods Markets... is that we are some kind of luxury retailer... and whenever the economy gets weak everybody comes out and says, 'Gosh, Whole Food sales are going to fall.' However, that's never been the case... in fact, during the recession our comps went up into double-digits." Preopening and relocation costs for Q4 2007 were $23 million, up from $14 million a year ago. Sales at stores open at least a year grew by 8.2%, following a 7% rise in Q3. Same-store Q4 2006 sales were up 8.6%. The company expects same-store sales to be up between 7.5% and 9.5% in fiscal 2008. Shares were up 2.3% in extended trading Tuesday.

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Source: Whole Foods Q4 Profit Slips; Beats Revenue Estimates