United Natural Foods, the US’s largest wholesale distributor to the natural and organic industry, today (30 August) posted fourth quarter net income of US$12.68m, or $0.30 per share, up from $11.78m, or $0.28 per share, reported for the comparable period last year.

Quarterly sales increased 14.1% from fiscal 2005 to $619.8m and annual net sales increased 18% from the prior financial year to $2.43bn.

Michael Funk, the company’s president and CEO, said that the strong results were proof that the company’s sales and marketing strategies are on the right track. ” Our financial success reflects the positioning of our sales and marketing strategies which have enabled us to achieve growth above industry levels across our primary distribution channels,” he commented.

“In addition, we continue to efficiently leverage our expenses. Throughout fiscal 2006, we improved our operating expenses over last year, in spite of higher fuel costs and operating expenses associated with the adoption of share-based compensation,” Funk continued.

“Our net sales, net income and earnings per share, excluding special items, all met or exceeded the high end of our initial guidance, reaffirming our position within the industry and validating our operating strategies. At the same time, we continued to strengthen our industry presence by growing our branded products business and fostering new business relationships with new and emerging customers in the industry.”

Looking ahead to FY2007, the company said it anticipates EPS in the range of $1.25-$1.30 on revenues of between $2.7bn and $2.8bn.