Whole Foods Reacts Poorly To Results

I feel for shareholders of Whole Foods Markets (WFMI). Yesterday the company reported 20% growth for yet another quarter and boosted its 2010 revenue goal to $12 billion from $10 billion. In a bid to please shareholders, the company also announced a $4 special dividend, a regular dividend increase of 30%, a two-for-one stock split, and a $200 million stock buyback plan.

Getting all four of those surely sounds like a good thing, but WFMI shares are down $9 in pre-market trading. The reason is quite simple. Whole Foods is a very high multiple stock and Q3 earnings didn’t come in ahead of estimates, which many were banking on. Despite a growth forecast of 20% annual growth through 2010, the stock is under pressure.

This is undoubtedly due to the stock’s high P/E. The company should earn about $3 next year, but that equates to a price-to-earnings ratio of 48 before today’s drop. You’ll be hard-pressed to find many investors who are willing to pay more than that for a stock, even if WFMI’s outlook is very bright and the company can deliver on its growth goals.