Costco Wholesale Corp.'s (COST) fiscal fourth-quarter earnings rose 27% as higher membership fees helped to improve margins.
Costco's sales have routinely topped Wall Street's expectations in recent quarters, thanks in part to a shaky economy encouraging shoppers to make bulk purchases at its warehouse clubs, which can be less expensive than other outlets.
Costco also sells its gasoline for less than area pumps, which has contributed to higher traffic at its clubs. But like many other retailers, Costco has faced rising costs for merchandise.
For the quarter ended Sept. 2, Costco reported a profit of $609 million, or $1.39 a share, up from $478 million, or $1.08 a share, a year earlier. The most-recent quarter included a last-in-first-out charge of two cents a share, compared with a four cents a share charge a year earlier.
Revenue jumped 14% to $32.22 billion.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast earnings of $1.31 a share on revenue of $31.69 billion.
Revenue from membership fees rose 18% to $694 million. Last November, Costco had raised membership fees by 10% in the U.S. and Canada, the first increase in five years.
Operating margin edged up to 2.9% from 2.7%. In the latest period, merchandise costs increased 14%.
Total same-store sales were up 6%, excluding currency fluctuations and inflation in gasoline prices. Same-store sales rose 6% in the U.S. and rose 7% internationally, excluding currency fluctuations and inflation in gasoline prices.
Shares closed Tuesday at $99.64 and were inactive premarket. The stock has gained 23% over the past year.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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