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Earnings and Outlook Roundup

Costco posts an 11% jump in profit

December 14, 2007|From Times Wire Services

Warehouse retailer Costco Wholesale Corp. said Thursday that its fiscal first-quarter profit rose 11% on increased sales and higher revenue from membership fees.

The results met Wall Street expectations, but Costco shares slipped slightly because of disenchantment with the company's operating margins, especially in its gasoline operations.

Costco reported earnings of $262 million, or 59 cents a share, for the quarter ended Nov. 25, compared with $236.9 million, or 51 cents, a year earlier. Revenue rose 12% to $15.81 billion.

Compared with an unusually strong first quarter for gas sales in 2006, sales at the pump shaved 4 cents a share from earnings in the latest quarter.

Costco, based in suburban Issaquah, Wash., said membership fee revenue rose to $338 million, up 13% from $299.3 million.

Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, rose 8% during the quarter, and U.S. same-store sales grew 5%. Excluding the effect of rising gas prices, U.S. same-store sales increased 4%. International same-store sales surged 17% on favorable currency exchange rates.

Costco shares fell $1.65, or 2.4%, to $68.54.

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