Costco Wholesale posted a fourth-quarter profit that trailed analysts’ estimates, hurt by higher costs and lower gasoline prices that crimped sales.
The Issaquah company’s net income in the quarter ended Sept. 1 rose to $617 million, or $1.40 a share, from $609 million, or $1.39, a year earlier. Analysts had projected profit of $1.46, the average of 13 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Costco, the largest U.S. warehouse-club chain, joins retailers from Wal-Mart Stores to Macy’s in reporting sales that trailed analysts’ projections for their most recent quarters as U.S. consumers restrain spending.
The profit miss, Costco’s first in eight quarters, came as selling, general and administrative expenses rose faster than some analysts expected and revenue climbed at the slowest pace since 2009.
Most Read Business Stories
- The penthouse atop Smith Tower is on the rental market for the first time
- Downtowns will be back, but Seattle has choices to make
- Washington state ‘literally failed workers,’ and fixing the unemployment system won't be easy
- Boutique cruise line Windstar will move its Seattle headquarters to Miami
- J&J’s 1-dose shot cleared, giving US 3rd COVID-19 vaccine
Higher expenses “could be attributable to continued IT spending and/or health-care related expenses,” David Strasser, an analyst with Janney Montgomery Scott wrote Wednesday in a note.
Revenue rose 0.8 percent to $32.5 billion, trailing analysts’ $32.7 billion average estimate. The gain was the smallest increase since sales fell in the quarter ended August 2009. Selling, general and administrative expenses rose 1.8 percent to $3.1 billion, more than the 0.3 percent increase projected by Strasser.
Although Costco stock initially fell on the earnings news, it moved into positive territory about 75 minutes into Wednesday’s trading session and closed up $2.38, or 2.1 percent, at $114.59. The shares have climbed 16 percent this year, matching the gain of the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.
Sales at stores open for more than a year increased 5 percent in the period, excluding changes in gasoline prices and foreign-currency exchange rates. That compared with an increase of 7 percent on that basis in the third quarter.