For Immediate Release
Contact: Cindy McCann
512.542.0204

Whole Foods Market Reports Fourth Quarter 2008 Results;
Company Announces $425 Million Equity Investment;
Updates Fiscal Year 2009 Outlook

November 5, 2008. Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ: WFMI) today reported results for the 12-week fourth quarter and 52-week fiscal year ended September 28, 2008. All year-over-year percentage increases for the current quarter and year have been adjusted to exclude the extra week in the fourth quarter last year. For the quarter, sales increased 13% to $1.8 billion. Excluding $49.2 million in sales last year from 35 subsequently divested Henry’s and Sun Harvest stores and 13 of the subsequently closed Wild Oats stores, sales for the quarter increased 16%. Comparable store sales increased 0.4% versus an 8.2% increase in the prior year. Identical store sales, excluding eight relocated stores and two major expansions, decreased 0.5% versus a 6.0% increase in the prior year. The Wild Oats stores entered the comparable and identical store sales base in the fifty-third full week following the August 28, 2007 merger date and were included in results for the last four weeks of the quarter.

In a separate release, the Company also announced an agreement for $425 million of additional equity from the sale of Series A Preferred Stock to Green Equity Investors V, L.P., an affiliate of Leonard Green & Partners, L.P. This amount equates to an ownership interest, assuming conversion of the preferred stock to common stock, of approximately 17% at this time.

“We are pleased that Leonard Green & Partners, L.P., one of the most experienced and successful investors in the retail industry, has decided to make such a significant investment in Whole Foods Market. We view it as a strong vote of confidence in our business model and our long-term growth prospects, despite the current economic environment,” said John Mackey, chairman, chief executive officer, and co-founder of Whole Foods Market. “This investment, combined with our strong cash flow from operations, gives us the financial flexibility to manage through these difficult economic times while continuing to prudently invest in our long-term growth. From both an operational and capital expenditure standpoint, we consider our current store development pipeline of 66 stores to be very manageable over the next four years.”

For the quarter, store contribution was $119.5 million or 6.7% of sales, and G&A expenses were $54.7 million or 3.1% of sales.  For the quarter, the Company’s effective tax rate was 90.3%, net income was $1.5 million, and diluted earnings per share were $0.01, including significant charges in the quarter as follows:

§
$14.7 million, or $0.05 per diluted share, in charges related to idle Wild Oats properties;
§
$5.5 million, or $0.02 per diluted share, in non-cash charges related to 13 lease terminations of Whole Foods Market stores in development;
§
$1.5 million, or $0.01 per diluted share, in non-cash charges related to asset impairments at two Wild Oats locations; and
§
$6.1 million, or $0.04 per diluted share, in tax charges resulting from the repatriation of $60 million in cash from the Company’s Canadian subsidiary in the fourth quarter.
 

The following information was filed by Whole Foods Market Inc (WFM) on Wednesday, November 5, 2008 as an 8K 2.02 statement, which is an earnings press release pertaining to results of operations and financial condition. It may be helpful to assess the quality of management by comparing the information in the press release to the information in the accompanying 10-K Annual Report statement of earnings and operation as management may choose to highlight particular information in the press release.

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