updated 5/3/2006 5:09:00 PM ET 2006-05-03T21:09:00

Natural-food store chain Whole Foods Market Inc. on Wednesday said fiscal second-quarter profit jumped 27 percent on strong same-store sales growth.

Profit for the quarter ended April 9 was $51.8 million, or 36 cents per share, compared with $40.7 million, or 30 cents per share during the year ago period. Revenue climbed 21 percent to $1.31 billion, from $1.09 billion last year.

Analysts, on average, predicted a profit of 35 cents on revenue of $1.32 billion, according to a poll by Thomson Financial.

Same-store sales, or sales in stores open at least one year, a widely used industry gauge, increased 11.9 percent during the quarter, despite a negative shift of Easter into the period this year.

The company increased same-store sales predictions for 2006 to a growth of 10 percent to 12 percent, from a previous estimate of 8 percent to 11 percent growth. It predicted overall sales growth to be on the upper end of 18 percent to 21 percent increase.

Shares of Whole Foods Market gained 96 cents at $63.11 in after-hours trading.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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