Some of food retailing's most profitable public companies are not the ones with massive scale, but instead those with a strong core of stores in a limited geographic area. According to an exclusive analysis of publicly owned companies in the grocery industry, many of the nation's smaller, regional supermarket operators are outperforming their larger counterparts. Profit metrics are also better for nontraditional players like Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas, and Wal-Mart Stores, ...

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