Costco's stock fell today even as the Issaquah-based retailer reported a second-quarter profit in line with Wall Street's expectations. Costco said its profit in...

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Costco’s stock fell today even as the Issaquah-based retailer reported a second-quarter profit in line with Wall Street’s expectations.

Costco said its profit in the three months that ended Feb. 17 rose 31 percent to $327.9 million, or 74 cents a share, up from $249.5 million, or 54 cents a share, a year ago.

Excluding $53.4 million in charges for the second quarter of 2007, Costco’s profit would have been up 8 percent from $302.9 million, or 66 cents a share, a year ago.

Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said Costco’s warehouse stores saw more foot traffic and larger transactions on average during the three-month period.

Sales rose 12 percent to $16.62 billion from $14.8 billion a year ago, helped by higher gasoline prices and favorable foreign exchange rates resulting from a weak U.S. dollar. (Under the current scenario, sales in other currencies go up when translated to U.S. dollars.)

Costco’s per-share profit matched analysts’ expectations, but its sales figure was slightly less than the $16.85 billion that Wall Street predicted. The company’s stock closed down $1.56, or 2.5 percent, at $60.83 today.

Sales at stores open at least a year, a key measure of retailer performance, increased 7 percent in the second quarter and for the month of February, with a noticeable pickup in the last two weeks, Galanti told analysts in a conference call this morning.

Sales of food, electronics and sporting goods were up from a year ago, though consumers appeared to be pulling back on discretionary purchases, notably furniture and jewelry, Galanti said.

“People still have to eat. They come in, and we have a lot of good things going on there,” he said.

Costco operates 534 warehouse stores, including 391 in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, 75 in Canada, 19 in the United Kingdom, six in Korea, five in Taiwan, seven in Japan and 31 in Mexico. The retailer opened seven new stores in the second quarter and plans a total of 16 to 18 new stores by the end of its fiscal year on Aug. 31, including four or five relocations.

“We have not slowed down our expansion,” Galanti said.

Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or amartinez@seattletimes.com