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Costco sees sharp decline in 2Q profits


A combination of weak consumer demand and a strong dollar led to a significant decline in Costco’s second quarter profits, the company announced.

Sales dropped 1% to $16.5 billion from $16.6 billion, while net income declined 27% to $240 million, or 55 cents a share, from $328 million, or 74 cents a share. Total company same-store sales for the second quarter declined 3%, but increased 5% if the negative effects of foreign exchange rates and gasoline prices are excluded.

“Second quarter 2009 earnings results were negatively impacted by a variety of factors, primarily centered around overall weak economic conditions,” said Costco CFO Richard Galanti. “In particular, our quarterly results were hurt by the continued weakness in non-foods sales and related margins. Margins in foods and non-foods were also negatively affected by increased pre-holiday seasonal markdowns and other selective price reductions to drive sales and increase market share. In addition, results were hurt by lower year-over-year gasoline profits and lower reported international profits, the latter a result of the significant strengthening of the U.S. dollar when compared to the currencies of Canada, the United Kingdom, Korea and Mexico.”

Membership income did grow however, increasing to $355.6 million from $342.9 million.

The company also announced February sales results for the period ended March 1 that declined 1% to slightly more than $5 billion. February same-store sales declined 3%, consisting of flat sales domestically and a 15% decline internationally. Excluding the effect of gasoline deflation on domestic results, same-store sales at U.S. units increased 4%. Same-store sales internationally increased 8%, excluding the negative effect of exchange rates.

Costco operates 553 clubs, 406 of which are located in the United States and Puerto Rico. Internationally, the company operates 76 clubs in Canada, 31 in Mexico, eight in Japan, six in Korea and five in Taiwan. An additional 10 to 11 new clubs are expected to open by the end of the company’s fiscal year on Aug. 30.

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