Ahead of the Bell: Whole Foods

Cantor Fitzgerald downgrades Whole Foods to "Hold," says share price growth will be limited

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- A Cantor Fitzgerald analyst on Monday lowered his rating on Whole Foods Market Inc. to "Hold," saying that there doesn't appear to be anything big to coming up to boost the grocery store chain's shares.

Ajay Jain said that in light of that, he can't justify boosting his price target or current earnings estimates enough to justify keeping his rating for it at "Buy." He increased his price target by $2 to $54.

The downgrade came ahead of the company's fiscal third quarter earnings report set for Wednesday. Jain backed his third-quarter profit prediction of 36 cents per share. Analysts, on average, expect a profit of 37 cents per share, according to FactSet.

Jain also noted that while Whole Foods' full-year profit outlook is probably conservative, Wall Street already is expecting an increase when the company reports its third-quarter results and has priced that move into the stock.

Whole Foods officials didn't immediately return an email sent before business hours seeking comment.

Whole Foods shares fell 47 cents to $55.50 in premarket trading.

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