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Quarterly reports reveal big gains for natural retailers

Double-digit growth continues for natural retailers, according to Natural Foods Merchandiser's 2012 Market Overview and recent quarterly reports from publicly traded companies. Here are highlights from some of the top retailers.

Financial advisers appear to have picked up on a fact that natural food retailers already know: Americans are seeking healthier food choices. That’s good for the health of the nation and for the industry we serve.

Quarterly business reports show just how healthy we are. Look at Whole Foods Market, which showed good growth, in line with what Natural Foods Merchandiser found in its annual Market Overview survey completed in conjunction with Nutrition Business Journal. Whole Foods reported 14 percent sales growth in its second-quarter report released this month.  

Our survey shows similar sales figures among growing natural products stores. We found a 14.5 percent 2011 average sales increase for these retailers. Sales in health food stores jumped 22.2 percent, and supplement stores grew 28.2 percent, according to our research. Natural products stores that experienced declines averaged an 8.8 percent drop. Watch for the June edition of Natural Foods Merchandiser for complete results.

Independent retail is the heart of the natural foods industry, but following publicly traded companies—in addition to our annual report—helps in benchmarking your store’s performance and tracking potential trends.

Here are some highlights from recent quarterly reports:

Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI)

"We are pleased to report another outstanding quarter, producing the best results in our company's 32-year history," said Co-Chief Executive John Mackey, said in Whole Foods' quarterly report press release, which offers several charts worth perusing.

Shareholder earnings is what is impressing analysts. This Wall Street Journal MarketWatch report nicely rounds up the grocer's new direction toward smaller stores and pricing moves. Whole Foods reported same-store increases of 9.5 percent.

On earnings news, Whole Foods stock hit a 52-week high. GuruFocus analysis can be found here.

Vitamin Shoppe (NYSE: VSI)

Vitamin Shoppe reported 14.4 percent first quarter revenue, with same store growth of 9.6 percent. This Investors.com piece compares Vitamin Shoppe and GNC performance as well as questions impact from the DMAA warning letters sent from the Food and Drug Administration. Even with the product controversy, several analysts have boosted their predictions of the stock's performance.

GNC Holdings (NYSE: GNC)

GNC Holdings reported revenue up 23 percent. Franchise store increases were 18. 4 percent, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek report. This Motley Fool analysis asks How high can GNC fly?

Fresh Market (Nasdaq: TFM)

Fresh Market's first quarter and outlook conference call will take place 4:15 p.m. EDT May 14.

United Natural Foods (Nasdaq: UNFI)

UNFI, in March, reported 17.5 percent year-over-year income growth. The Motley Fool stock analyst has followed UNFI and offers a margin analysis in this report.

What's next? Analysts appear pleased with the performance of natural foods businesses and predict continued growth. What do you foresee?

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