PROVIDENCE – United Natural Foods Inc., a national distributor of natural, organic and specialty food products, saw its bottom line rise 15.1 percent during its fiscal third quarter to $36.4 million, or 73 cents per diluted share, compared with $31.6 million, or 64 cents per diluted share, for the same period last year.
Net sales also improved during the quarter, totaling $1.8 billion, an increase of 13.8 percent over the $1.6 billion reported in the fiscal third quarter of 2013.
Fiscal year to date, UNFI net income totaled $92.1 million, or $1.85 per diluted share, through the nine months ended May 3, a 21.6 percent increase compared with net income of $75.8 million, or $1.53 per diluted share, reported for the same nine-month period in fiscal 2013. Net sales climbed 13.7 percent for the fiscal year to date, from $4.4 billion to $5 billion.
Total operating expenses as a percentage of net sales were 13.2 percent for the quarter, a decline of 13 basis points compared with the same period last fiscal year. UNFI’s total operating expenses for the third quarter of fiscal 2014 included roughly $1 million related to the recent opening of a new distribution center in Racine, Wis., and $600,000 in acquisition costs related to the company’s announced agreement to purchase California-based Tony’s Fine Foods.
“Each of our sales channels continued to benefit from consumers increasingly choosing better-for-you natural, organic and specialty foods as illustrated by our second consecutive quarter of net sales growth in excess of $200 million,” said Steven Spinner, president and CEO of UNFI.
In addition to the Wisconsin center, Spinner said UNFI plans to open another facility in Hudson Valley, N.Y., in the first quarter of fiscal 2015.
In the fiscal third quarter earnings report, released Tuesday, UNFI narrowed its guidance for fiscal 2014 earnings per share (previously forecast between $2.40 and $2.50) to between $2.47 and $2.50. The company expects net sales in the range of $6.73 billion to $6.77 billion, an increase of between 11 percent and 11.6 percent compared with fiscal 2013.