Costco total sales, comps rise in January

Analyst rates retailer's stock at "neutral" despite bigger-than-predicted increase

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Costco Wholesale Corp.'s sales increased 7% in January compared with January 2012, the club retailer said Thursday.

Costco reported sales for the five weeks that ended Sunday of $9.35 billion, compared with $8.74 billion a year ago. The month was one day shorter than last year due to the timing of the New Year holiday, which reduced total and same-store sales by about 2%, the company said. Comps in U.S. stores were up by 6%.

For the first 22 weeks of the fiscal year that ended Sunday, Costco reported sales of $43.77 billion, compared with $40.18 billion during the same period last year.

Costco's stock was down by 11 cents in morning trading on the NASDAQ after opening at $101.77.

Though the increases in total sales and comps were about 1% above his estimates, analyst John Heinbockel of Guggenheim Securities rated the club retailer's stock at "neutral," saying that January sales were "solid and generally in line with expectations" while expressing concern that Wall Street estimates of the company's earnings per share in 2013 were too high.

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