United Natural Foods cuts profit outlook for year

United Natural Foods cuts year profit outlook, shares drop; 2nd-quarter earnings grow 3 pct

Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Shares of United Natural Foods Inc. fell Tuesday after the distributor of organic and "natural" foods to grocery stores and other customers cut its outlook for the year.

The company's net income in the fiscal second quarter rose 3 percent as revenue increased 12 percent.

For the three months ended Jan. 26, United Natural earned $22.6 million, or 46 cents per share. That compares with $22 million, or 45 cents per share, a year earlier.

Profit came to 50 cents, matching analyst expectations, after the company stripped out expenses related to a labor dispute in Washington, which it says it has resolved.

The company's margin, a ratio that measures profitability, dropped to 16.7 percent from 17.3 percent as it focused more on supermarkets and natural food stores customers. Distributing to supermarkets rather than other customers brings in less money for United Natural Foods.

Revenue grew to $1.45 billion from $1.29 billion, which also met predictions of analysts polled by FactSet.

United Natural Foods cut its per-share earnings outlook for the fiscal year ending in July to between about $2.12 and $2.18 from a prior forecast of $2.14 to $2.24.

Its adjusted per-profit forecast came to between $2.15 and $2.21, below analyst predictions of $2.22. That excludes a tax benefit, a property settlement and other items.

The Providence, R.I., company also said Tuesday that it added Denise Clark, an executive at makeup company Estee Lauder Cos., to its board. This boosts United Natural's board to nine, with seven independent directors.

Shares dropped $2.04, or 3.9 percent, to $50.96 in morning trading.

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