Costco Earnings Solid, Not Thrilling

Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) reported fiscal fourth-quarter adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.39 on net sales of $31.52 billion. In the same period a year ago, the warehouse store company reported adjusted EPS of $1.08 on sales of $27.59 billion. Fourth-quarter results compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for $1.31 per share and $31.69 billion in sales.

For the full fiscal year, EPS totaled $3.89, compared with $3.30 a year ago. Net sales totaled $97.06 billion, up from $87.05 billion a year ago. Fiscal 2012 included one extra week, which was counted in the fourth quarter. The consensus estimates for full-year results called for EPS of $3.87 on sales of $98.54 billion.

Membership fees for the quarter brought in $694 million. Net profit totaled $609 million. For the year, membership fees totaled $2.08 billion, and net profit totaled $1.71 billion. Here's where the profits are for the company.

Costco did not offer any guidance for the 2013 fiscal year or the first quarter in its published results.

Excluding gasoline sales and currency translation effects, same-store sales for the quarter rose 6% in the United States and 7% internationally. Combined, same-store sales were up 6% year-over-year. For the full year, same-store sales rose 6% in the U.S., 8% internationally and 6% combined. Costco said that higher gasoline prices had a negative impact in the fourth quarter and a net positive impact for the full year. Currency translation effects were negative for both the quarter and the year.

The company plans to add 14 stores to its current total of 608 by the end of 2012.

Costco's shares are up about 0.5% in premarket trading at $100.15. The 52-week range is $78.81 to $103.51. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $96.95 before today's report.

Paul Ausick

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