AUSTIN, Texas -- Whole Foods Market here said last week that lower-than-expected comparable-store sales, coupled with higher-than-expected utilities costs, combined to push earnings per share for the first quarter 4 cents below expectations. The company noted that comps had been running at 8.6% for the initial 11 weeks of the 16-week first quarter, ended Jan. 14, but plunged to an average of 4.2% for the four-week period around Christmas and New Year's Eve. Last year, the company said, ...

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