Wednesday, December 8, 1999

Costco posts
strong earnings

The retailer will split
its stock 2-for-1

By Russ Lynch


Art Costco Wholesale Corp., whose 302 warehouse outlets include four in Hawaii, today reported a profit of $129.3 million, or 56 cents a share, for the three months through Nov. 21, the first quarter of its 2000 fiscal year. The per-share results beat analysts' expectations by a penny.

In the year-earlier quarter, Costco had a net loss of $13.8 million, or 6 cents a share, after taking a one-time accounting charge of $118 million, or 54 cents a share.

Without that charge, which was related to a change in the way the company handles its membership fees, the 1999 first quarter would have shown a profit of $104.2 million, or 46 cents a share.

Revenues in the latest quarter were $6.82 billion, up 16 percent from $5.89 billion a year earlier.

Costco also announced plans for a 2-for-1 stock split, to take effect Jan. 13. The stock will begin trading at a post-split price on Jan. 14.

Based in Issaquah, Wash., Costco entered the Hawaii market in 1988 with a store in Salt Lake. It followed up with outlets in Hawaii Kai and on the Big Island and Maui. Costco also recently announced plans for its third Oahu store, near Waipio Gentry, its biggest in the islands at 150,000 square feet. That store, to attract customers from the growing communities in Central and Leeward Oahu, should open next summer.

Costco, offering what it calls wholesale prices to anyone willing to pay an annual membership fee of close to $40, is popular among price-conscious shoppers. In Hawaii, the company plans to extend that system to gasoline sales, opening 12 gas pumps for members at the Waipio outlet.

Nationally, Costco plans to open 15 to 20 new stores before its 2000 fiscal year ends on Sept. 3, the company said.

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