Whole Foods' profit tumbles

AUSTIN, Texas - Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFM) says its latest quarterly profit fell by more than half, as the grocer faces intense competition, with organic foods becoming more widely available.

The Austin-based company announced Wednesday that it earned $56 million, or 16 cents per share, in its fiscal fourth quarter, compared with $128 million, or 35 cents per share, in the July-September period last year.

The earnings included $80 million in charges for restructuring and asset impairment costs. Excluding those items, profit came to 30 cents per share.

The grocery chain's revenue rose 6 percent to $3.44 billion.

Whole Foods also announced plans to return more money to shareholders. Its board authorized a buyback plan of up to $1 billion, bringing the total amount available for repurchases to $1.3 billion.