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Comps Up 12.9% at Natural Grocers

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage here said Thursday that its comparable-store sales for the first fiscal quarter were up 12.9%.

The fast-growing, small-format operator also increased its sales and EBITDA outlook for the year, projecting comps of 8% to 9% for fiscal 2013 — up 0.5% over previous projections — and EBITDA as a percent of sales of 7.2% to 7.4%, v. previous projections of 7% to 7.2%.

"We are pleased to announce another strong quarter of both sales and earnings growth while remaining focused on our five founding principles," said Kemper Isely, co-president of the chain, which had an initial public offering last year.

Net income for the first quarter, which ended Dec. 31, was up 124.3%, to about $2.2 million. On a pro-forma basis — reflecting the acquisition of controlling interest a five-store group as if it had been included in year-ago results — net income was up 91.5%.

Sales for the quarter totaled $95.8 million, up 28.1% over year-ago levels, including $11.3 million in sales from new stores. The comp-store gains included an 8.3% increase in transaction counts over the year-ago quarter.

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