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Whole Foods earnings: 46 cents per share versus expected EPS of 45 cents

JB Redd | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Whole Foods Market delivered quarterly earnings on Wednesday that beat analysts' expectations, while sales figures were in line.

After the earnings announcement, the company's shares rose more than 3 percent in after-hours trading.

Whole Foods posted fiscal first-quarter earnings of 46 cents per share, up 10 percent from a year earlier. Revenue also climbed 10 percent to a record $4.67 billion.

"We are pleased with our first-quarter results which reflect accelerating comparable-store sales growth and healthy returns. We attribute our broad-based sales momentum to our customers' positive response to our many strategic initiatives, along with improving consumer confidence," said Walter Robb, co-chief executive officer of Whole Foods.

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Comparable-store sales rose 4.5 percent during the quarter, topping StreetAccount forecasts for a 4.4 percent increase.

Analysts had expected the company to report earnings of 45 cents a share on $4.67 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Once one of Wall Street's most-coveted stocks, Whole Foods saw its share price jump more than 1,130 percent between 2008 and 2013.

However, the stock has since cooled and is now down about 20 percent from its 2013 peak amid intense competition in the premium food retail space. Shares of the organic food retailer have fluctuated between $36 and $56 per share during the last year.

Whole Foods, established in 1980, has grown into the largest U.S. retailer of natural and organic foods, with $12.9 billion in sales in full-year 2013, according to S&P Capital IQ, which has a "hold" rating on the stock.

"We believe the adoption of a new pricing strategy, increased lower-priced (value) product offerings and reacceleration of square-footage expansion will help support above-average industry sales growth levels in FY 14 and beyond, despite pressuring margins in the near term," S&P Capital IQ said in a recent note.