Mar 3, 2010
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Costco posts higher profit

Mar 3, 2010

(Reuters) - Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O) on Wednesday 3 March reported a higher quarterly profit for its holiday quarter, helped by more shoppers coming into its stores and improved sales of discretionary items, like home decor and clothes.

The No. 1 U.S. warehouse club operator also said its February same-store sales rose 9 percent, including the impact of fuel prices and foreign exchange.

According to Thomson Reuters data, 11 analysts, on average, were expecting an 8.5 percent gain.

For its fiscal second quarter ended February 14, 2010, Costco earned $299 million, or 67 cents a share, compared with $239 million, or 55 cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of 72 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Quarterly sales rose 11 percent to $18.36 billion, excluding membership fees -- which rose about 9 percent to $386 million. Same-store sales in the quarter increased 9 percent.

Warehouse clubs have attracted shoppers looking for discounts on staple items like food and shampoo to stretch household budgets strained by the downturn.

But in its year-ago quarter, Costco's profit fell after it cut prices to win market share during the holiday season. It has said that to keep its customers during the downturn, it would be aggressive cutting prices or delaying price increases.

(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore and Nicole Maestri in New York; Editing by Aradhana Aravindan)

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