Organic earnings?

December 29, 2003

You have to give Whole Foods Markets (WFMI) points for providing such clear disclosure on their options in the 10-K it filed last week. Unlike a lot of other companies that rely heavily on options, the large natural foods chain doesn’t try to fudge their options expenses by monkeying around with the assumptions it uses. Without expensing the options, WFMI reported $1.76 in net income. Once options are expensed, that number drops to $1.46 (non-diluted) and $1.41 (diluted). That’s a pretty big difference, particularly considering the rich valuation on the stock: it’s trading at nearly 40 times 2003 earnings. And accounting for the options raises the P/E to nearly 50. Too bad corporate earnings don’t have the same type of labeling that many of Whole Food’s products do. Then, investors would know what’s organic and what’s pumped up with artificial ingredients and sweeteners!

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