* Q1 EPS $0.40 vs est $0.36
* Q1 sales $324.8 mln vs est $310.4 mln
* Q1 same store sales up 8.2 percent
* Sees FY2012 EPS $1.28-$1.34
* Shares rise 14 pct
May 30 (Reuters) - Specialty grocer Fresh Market Inc posted better-than-expected quarterly results on improved margins and forecast a higher full-year profit, sending its shares up as much as 14 percent.
The company expects full-year per-share profit to increase 20 to 25 percent to between $1.28 and $1.34 per share this fiscal.
First-quarter net income rose to $19.3 million, or 40 cents per share, from $13.5 million, or 28 cents per share, a year ago.
Analysts on average had expected the company to earn 36 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Sales at Fresh Market rose 22.8 percent to $324.8 million, ahead of the $310.4 million analysts had expected.
Gross margins increased to 34.7 percent from 33.87, last year.
Same-store sales at Fresh Market, which operates 116 stores in 21 U.S. states, rose more than 8 percent during the quarter.
Retailers like Fresh Market and Whole Foods Market Inc cater to health-conscious and generally upscale shoppers, and have outperformed cheaper-priced rivals like Kroger Co, Safeway Inc and Supervalu Inc.
Whole Foods Market Inc also rang up a quarterly profit beat earlier this month and raised its full-year earnings forecast.
Fresh Market shares were up 11 percent at $54.53 on Wednesday, making it the third-biggest percentage gainer on the Nasdaq.