ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Growth in sales and membership income at Costco helped the company produce earnings per share of 95 cents and beat analysts’ estimates by 2 cents.
Sales for the company’s first quarter ended November 25, increased 10% to $23.2 billion from $21.2 billion and profits increased 30% to $416 million, or 95 cents a share, from $320 million, or 73 cents a share. The profit performance benefited from the inclusion of charges totaling $29 million, or 7 cents a share, in the prior year reporting period. On an adjusted basis excluding those charges from the prior year, profits increased a slightly less impressive 19.2%.
Same store sales increased 6% domestically and 7% internationally, excluding fuel sales and foreign exchange effects.
Membership trends remain solid as fee income advanced 14.3% to $511 million from $447 million the prior year.
The company ended the quarter with cash, cash equivalents and short term investments totaling $5.6 billion, nearly a 15% increase from $4.8 billion at the end of the comparable period the prior year. Costco will expend a large portion of those resources in the coming weeks as it plans to pay a special dividend of $7 a share to help investors avoid an imminent tax increase on dividends. In total, Costco will pay out roughly $3 billion before year end and plans to issue new debt to finance the move.
Costco ended the period with 621 warehouses worldwide, consisting of 448 clubs in the United States and Puerto Rico, 85 in Canada, 32 in Mexico, 23 in the United Kingdom, 13 in Japan, nine in Taiwan, eight in Korea, and three in Australia.