Financial Performance

Costco Shares Drop on 4th Quarter Sales Miss

The stock had risen 42% this year as the warehouse retailer benefited from strong consumer spending.
Matthew HellerOctober 4, 2019

Costco shares fell in extended trading Thursday after the warehouse retailer reported lower-than-expected sales and slower e-commerce growth.

For the fourth quarter, Costco’s revenue rose 7% to $47.5 billion while net income rose to $1.097 billion from $1.043 billion a year ago. Analysts had expected revenue of $47.7 billion.

Profit took a hit from a $123 million charge related to taxes. Excluding that item, Costco earned $2.69 per share, beating estimates of $2.55 per share.

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Same-store sales rose 5.1% in the quarter, with U.S. comp sales up 6.2%. Online sales rose 19.8% after beating 20% in June, July and August.

In the extended session Thursday, Costco shares, which had jumped 42% this year, dropped 1.6% to $284.25. “Sales were a bit light,” Barron’s said, while adding that “the quarter didn’t contain many surprises — as per usual — and it is worth noting that previous so-so reports have done little to slow Costco’s rally.

According to The Wall Street Journal, “The company has been aided by strong consumer spending, which has helped boost the U.S. economy for much of the year amid worries about slowing global growth and uncertainty related to tariffs. But the economy is growing at a slower pace than last year, and consumer spending slowed slightly in August.”

One analyst wrote last month that Costco’s “lack of margin expansion and increased competition from low-cost grocers (particularly Walmart, which has invested heavily in growing its e-commerce business over the past few years) represent significant risks in the coming quarters.”

“We are still seeing good growth,” CFO Richard Galanti said.

Costco is also expanding overseas, opening its first warehouse in China about two months ago, where overcrowding and traffic jams in the neighborhood forced the retailer to limit the number of shoppers in the store.