Shares in Whole Foods Market dropped yesterday (2 November) despite the US retailer reporting higher fourth-quarter sales and profits.

The company's stock fell 5.4% in after-hours trading after the growth in its identical-store sales failed to meet analyst expectations.

Whole Foods reported an 8.4% increase in identical-store sales for the 12 weeks to 25 September. According to Thomson Reuters, analysts, on average, had expected growth of 9.1%.

Sales for the quarter increased 12% to US$2.4bn. EBITDA grew 12% to $185.3m, while net income was up 31% at $75.5m.

Over the year as a whole, net income available to common shareholders jumped 43% to $342.6m, while EBITDA was up 17% at $834.7m.

Whole Foods' net sales rose 12% to $10.1bn, with identical-store sales increasing 8.4%.

The retailer said its identical-store sales had risen 8.2% in the first five weeks of the first quarter of the current financial year.

Whole Foods' new fiscal year includes 53 weeks and it has forecast a 6.5-8.5% rise in identical-store sales and a 13-15% increase in sales.

Co-CEO John Mackey said: "Our outlook for fiscal year 2012 reflects consistent identical store sales growth, a record number of new store openings, EBITDA of close to $1bn, and significant operating margin improvement. We are continuing to produce quality results and expect the lessons we learned during the recession will drive even higher levels of operating performance and returns on invested capital over time."

Click here for the full release from Whole Foods.