While the warehouse-club chain has demonstrated it can move everything from toilet paper to caseloads of Dom Perignon, Wall Street is placing pressure on it to squeeze more profit out of every item it sells.
Costco in January sold an original Picasso drawing online for $40,000.
For sale on its Web site now: a 10.61-carat yellow diamond ring — for $79,999 and change.
While the warehouse-club chain has demonstrated it can move everything from toilet paper to caseloads of Dom Perignon, Wall Street is placing pressure on it to squeeze more profit out of every item it sells, big or small.
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The company yesterday said its profit for the second quarter ended Feb. 13 climbed 34.7 percent, thanks, in part, to a substantial one-time tax benefit. Sales rose 9.6 percent to $12.66 billion.
Stripped of the one-time gain, however, Costco missed Wall Street’s profit-per-share forecast by a penny — the second consecutive quarter it slightly missed analysts’ estimates.
The news sent its stock down $1.69 to $45.02 a share.
Analyst Mark Miller at William Blair said Wall Street is accustomed to Costco beating forecasts.
The company either met or beat analysts’ estimates for six quarters before falling short in the first quarter.
“Part of what happened [to the stock] is that expectations have increased,” Miller said.
Costco yesterday reported a profit of $305.5 million, or 62 cents a share, which included the one-time, $52.1 million tax gain — the result of a pricing-dispute settlement with Canadian tax authorities.
Excluding the gain, the company earned $263.3 million, or 54 cents a share, a penny shy of analysts’ average estimates, according to Thomson Financial/First Call.
McAdams Wright Ragen analyst Dan Geiman said analysts were disappointed that the company seemed to bring down its third-quarter and full-year profit expectations.
Analysts had expected the company to earn 47 cents for the third quarter and $2.11 for the current fiscal year.
But Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti indicated yesterday that both numbers were at the “high-end” of the company’s projected profit range.
“The outlook has declined a little bit,” Geiman said.
Costco said it opened a dozen new warehouse-clubs during the current fiscal year, bringing its total to 451 warehouses in North America, the U.K., Mexico and Asia.
The company said it expects to open 21 stores for the year, down slightly from its previous forecast of 25.
Meantime, several analysts pressed Galanti on when Costco plans to use its approximately $3.78 billion in cash, whether to make acquisitions or to buy back shares.
Galanti said the company would not likely pay a big, one-time dividend or use its cash to ramp up growth dramatically in a given year.
He said a stock buyback is an issue that the board of directors continues to discuss.
“Stay tuned, and we’ll see what happens,” Galanti said.
Monica Soto Ouchi: 206-515-5632 or firstname.lastname@example.org