Costco profit soars 30 percent on high sales, low prices

Costco's profits rose 30 percent in the fiscal first quarter on better sales and more revenue from membership fees. Costco's gain beat analysts' expectations, and stock rose 14 cents per share in premarket trading. 

Rick Bowmer/AP/File
In this 2011 file photo, a shopper leaves a Costco store in Portland, Ore. Costco's profits rose 30 percent in the fiscal first quarter, beating expectations. Costco stock rose in premarket trading.

 Costco's fiscal first-quarter net income rose 30 percent on better sales and more revenue from membership fees at its warehouse clubs.

The Issaquah, Wash. company said Wednesday that it earned $416 million, or 95 cents per share, for the period that ended Nov. 25. That compares with $320 million, or 73 cents per share, a year ago. Last year's quarter included 7 cents per share in one-time charges.

The earnings topped expectations of analysts surveyed by FactSet for earnings of 93 cents per share.

Revenue rose 10 percent to $23.72 billion from $21.63 billion, beating Wall Street's forecast of $23.54 billion.

Costco's stock added 14 cents to $98.45 in premarket trading.

Revenue at stores open at least a year climbed 7 percent in the quarter. The figure rose 7 percent in the U.S. and 9 percent overseas. That measurement is a key gauge of a retailer's health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

Stripping out higher gas prices and stronger foreign currencies, revenue at stores open at least a year increased 6 percent for the total company and at U.S. locations. The figure rose 7 percent abroad.

In November Costco Wholesale Corp. said it would pay a special dividend of $7 per share. The special dividend will be paid Dec. 18 to shareholders of record Dec. 10.

Many companies are making special end-of-year dividend payments or moving up their quarterly payouts because investors will have to pay higher taxes on dividend income starting in 2013, unless Congress and President Barack Obama reach a compromise on taxes and government spending.

Costco currently runs 621 warehouses, including 448 in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, 85 in Canada, 32 in Mexico, 23 in the U.K., 13 in Japan, nine in Taiwan, eight in Korea and three in Australia.

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