Natural Grocers Reports Strong Q1 Sales

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage reported positive results for the first quarter of fiscal 2024, which concluded on December 31st, 2023. Key year-over-year highlights include a 7.6% increase in net sales to $301.8 million, a 6.2% rise in daily average comparable store sales, net income of $7.8 million with diluted earnings per share at $0.34, and an Adjusted EBITDA of $18.8 million. 

“Our strong first quarter results reflect a continuation of the positive trends we experienced in recent quarters,” said Kemper Isely, Natural Grocers Co-president. “Net sales grew 7.6% year-over-year to $301.8 million, driven by a 6.2% increase in daily average comparable store sales which included a 3.4% increase in transaction count. Sales strength continued to be broad-based across categories. Our differentiated offering of carefully vetted natural and organic products, and compelling value proposition, continue to resonate with today’s health-conscious consumers and distinguish us in the marketplace. Diluted earnings per share increased 78.9% to $0.34, reflecting strong sales growth, effective pricing and promotions, and expense leverage.” 

During the first quarter of fiscal 2024, net sales increased by $21.3 million (7.6%) to $301.8 million, driven by a $17.3 million increase in comparable store sales and a $5.5 million increase in new store sales. Gross profit increased by $10.0 million (12.8%) to $88.8 million, with a gross margin improvement of 130 basis points to 29.4%. 

Store expenses in the first quarter of fiscal 2024 rose by 6.9% to $68.0 million, primarily due to higher compensation expenses, but as a percentage of net sales, they decreased to 22.5%. Administrative expenses increased by 14.0% to $9.4 million, with administrative expenses as a percentage of net sales rising to 3.1%. Operating income for the first quarter of fiscal 2024 was $10.8 million, compared to $6.4 million in the same period of fiscal 2023. Net income for the quarter was $7.8 million, or $0.34 diluted earnings per share, compared to $4.4 million, or $0.19 diluted earnings per share, for the first quarter of fiscal 2023. Adjusted EBITDA for the first quarter of fiscal 2024 was $18.8 million, up from $13.8 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2023. 

“We are encouraged by our first quarter results, which have prompted us to raise our fiscal 2024 outlook for daily average comparable store sales growth and diluted earnings per share. We believe we are well positioned to leverage our momentum throughout the balance of the fiscal year,” Isley said. 

The company also declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.10 per common share, payable on March 20th, 2024, to stockholders of record as of March 4th, 2024. During the first quarter of fiscal 2024, Natural Grocers opened two stores and relocated one store, bringing the total store count to 167 across 21 states. Since December 31st, 2023, the company has opened one additional store. Natural Grocers, founded in 1955, currently operates 168 stores in 21 states.