(By Balachander) United Natural Foods Inc. (NASDAQ:UNFI) posted higher earnings and sales growth for the fourth quarter on growing demand for its natural and organic products. The company also issued its fiscal 2013 forecast.
The distributor of natural, organic and specialty foods delivered earnings per share (EPS) of 51 cents, in line with consensus estimates. In the year-ago quarter, EPS were 43 cents. Net income surged 47 percent to $25.14 million.
Net sales jumped 16 percent to $1.34 billion, ahead of Wall Street expectations of a growth of 13.70 percent.
Gross margin shrank 137 basis points to 17.2 percent.
For fiscal 2012, UNFI earned $1.94 a share on sales of $5.24 billion. Analysts' expected EPS of $1.95 on sales of $5.21 billion for the full year.
Looking forward for fiscal 2013, the company forecasts GAAP EPS of $2.14 to $2.24 per share on sales of $5.88 billion to $5.98 billion. Market expectations call in for EPS of $2.25 on sales of $5.84 billion.
UNFI stock closed Monday's regular trading at $60.43. Over the past year, shares have been trading between $32.83 and $61.21.