September 9, 2009 / 4:33 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-United Natural Q4 EPS edges past Street, sales miss

* Q4 EPS $0.36 vs est $0.35

* Q4 sales $853.5 mln vs est $869.5 mln

* Sees 2010 EPS $1.48 to $1.58

* Sees 2010 cap-ex between $35 mln to $39 mln

* Shares fall 9 pct (Adds conference call details, analyst comments, share movement)

Sept 9 (Reuters) - Organic and natural foods distributor United Natural Foods Inc’s UNFI.O quarterly profit beat Wall Street expectations by a cent, helped by lower expenses, and forecast a 2010 profit range, whose lower end was below analysts’ view.

Shares of the Dayville, Connecticut-based company were trading down 7 percent at $25.99 Wednesday afternoon on Nasdaq.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Edward Aaron said in a note that while profit beat expectations, the lack of a sales forecast — which is uncharacteristic of the company — and light sales could weigh on investor sentiment to some extent. “It will be a challenge to continually reduce expenses and grow gross margin while aggressively pursuing market share expansion and the development of new revenue streams,” Chief Executive Steven Spinner said on a conference call.

The company sees 2010 profit between $1.48 and $1.58 a share, while analysts were looking for $1.55 a share.

United Natural forecast full-year capital expenditure of about $35 million to $39 million.

The company, which supplies food to conventional supermarket chains, independent retail operators and natural product superstores like Whole Foods Market Inc WFMI.O, earned $15.5 million, or 36 cents a share, compared with $12.8 million, or 30 cents a share, a year ago.

Revenue fell to $853.5 million from $911.9 million.

Analysts on average were looking for a profit of 35 cents a share, before items, on revenue of $869.5 million, according to Reuters Estimates. (Reporting by Vidya Lakshmi in Bangalore; Editing by Jarshad Kakkrakandy, Anne Pallivathuckal)

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