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United Natural Foods Inc.’s stock shed early gains to trade flat early Wednesday, after the grocery retailer’s fiscal second-quarter sales fell short of estimates and it lowered its full-year guidance.

The Providence, R.I.-based company, which is attempting a turnaround, posted a net loss of $15 million, or 25 cents a share, for the quarter to Jan. 27, after net income of $19 million, or 31 cents a share, in the year-earlier period.

Excluding one-time items, the company had adjusted per-share earnings of 7 cents, beating the FactSet consensus for a loss of 2 cents a share.

Sales fell to $7.775 billion from $7.816 billion a year ago, just below the $7.873 billion FactSet consensus.

“Greater than anticipated benefits from our near-term value creation initiatives and further advances in managing shrink partially offset the expected reduction in procurement gains and startup costs associated with a new distribution center,” CEO Sandy Douglas said in a statement.

The company is still working on a transformation plan to boost profitability, Douglas added.

The company is expecting its Centralia, Wash., automation system to go live in spring and for its Manchester, Pa. distribution center to be automated. It expects its northeast distribution center optimization plan to be complete in fiscal 2025.

United Natural Foods tweaked its guidance for fiscal 2024 and is now expecting sales to range from $30.5 billion to $31.0 billion, down from prior guidance of $30.9 billion to $31.5 billion.

It expects a per-share loss of $1.70 to $1.08, compared with prior guidance for a loss of $2.02 to 76 cents. Adjusted per-share earnings are expected to range from a loss of 56 cents to EPS of 6 cents, down from prior guidance for a loss of 88 cents to EPS of 38 cents.

The FactSet consensus is for sales of $28.5 billion and EPS of 10 cents.

The stock has fallen 64% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500
has gained 25%.

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