Rule #1 Finance Blog

With Investor Phil Town

HOW TO READ A QUARTERLY CONFERENCE CALL (PART FIVE)

Here’s the fifth and final installment on how to interpret a company’s Quarterly Conference Call. In this case, the company is WFMI (Whole Foods).

I will now turn to our growth goals for fiscal year 2006 and beyond. Please refer to our press release for more detailed guidance information.

In fiscal 2005 we produced very strong operating results which exceeded our own expectations and our initial guidance. The strength and consistency of our top-line growth along with the number and quality of the stores in our development pipeline have given us the confidence to raise our 2010 growth goal from $10 billion in sales to $12 billion.

Whoa Nellie!  He’s raising the company goal to $12 bil.  Up 20% from where he was last year.   When he announced this goal a couple of years ago, he was going to have to grow at about 22% a year to get there.  Which is where I got my 22% growth rate.   But he’s expecting to do even better.  Good news for our MOS.

For fiscal year 2006, we are raising our sales growth guidance to 18% to 21% from 15% to 20%. We expect comparable store sales growth of 8% to 11% and weighted average square footage growth in line with our five-year average of 14%.

We have produced very consistent gross margin, direct store expenses, and G&A results as a percentage of sales over time and believe that we will produce earnings growth through sales growth rather than through significant operating leverage.  We believe our historical results are the best indicator of our future results; however, due to fluctuations in the number of new store openings each year and quarter over quarter, there could be some negative impact on store contribution, as new stores generally have lower gross margins and higher direct store expenses than more mature stores.

That’s huge, hearing that "we believe our historical results are the best indicator of our future results".

Our business model is very successful and continues to benefit all of our stakeholders. We are executing at a high level, posting strong sales, comps, earnings, and EVA growth. We are very pleased with our performance this year but believe that the best is yet to come.

And he finishes with a nice view of the future for WFMI.  Me, I read this and I’m so glad I’m an investor.   They aren’t even 10% of Albertson’s stores, they are by far the market brand for their niche, and they are taking over the top end of the grocery market.  You should see the crowds in their Time-Warner Center NYC Columbus Circle store on a Saturday night.  Fuggettaboudit.

So that’s it.  That’s how you can get a sense of what’s up without a lot of jargon worries.   You get the drift.  They’re kicking butt and can keep kicking butt for a long time to come.  That’s what we’re looking for.