United Natural Foods (UNFI 39.50, +2.29) is up 6.2% in pre-market after exceeding earnings expectations for the fourth quarter.
The distributor of organic, natural, and specialty foods reported above-consensus fourth quarter earnings of $0.72 per share on a 5.7% year-over-year increase in revenue to $2.34 billion, which was just shy of estimates.
Acquisitions of Haddon House Food Products and Gourmet Guru contributed to the overall sales growth. Gross margin improved by 15 basis points to 15.75%, due to margin enhancement initiatives and fuel surcharges that were offset by competitive pricing pressure.
The company's cash flow from operations totaled $117.70 million while free cash flow totaled $101.60 million. This was up from 2016 cash flow from operations ($91.00 million) and 2016 free cash flow ($78.70 million).
Looking ahead, the company expects that earnings for fiscal year 2018 will be between $2.67 and $2.77 per share while revenue is expected between $9.63 billion and $9.81 billion. The company's guidance range envelops current market estimates. Capital expenditures are expected to be between 0.6% and 0.7% of total sales.
Shares of United Natural Foods have endured a difficult 2017, continuing a prolonged downtrend that started in 2015. Today's pre-market advance has helped the stock narrow its 2017 loss to 16.4%, returning to levels from mid-June.