For the quarter ended Feb. 16, the warehouse club retailer posted a profit of $463 million, or $1.05 a share, compared with a profit of $547 million, or $1.24 a share, a year ago. That missed analysts’ average estimate for $1.17 a share.
Net sales rose 6% to $25.76 billion, missing analysts’ estimate for $26.65 billion in sales.
Comparable store sales were up 3% (up 5% excluding fuel). Membership fees rose 4.2% to $550 million.
According to Richard Galanti, chief financial officer, “despite satisfactory sales results during the second fiscal quarter, several other factors led to lower earnings. These factors included: weaker sales and gross margin results in certain non-foods merchandise categories, particularly during the four-week holiday selling season; weaker gross margins in our fresh foods business; and lower reported international profits, resulting from the significant weakening of foreign exchange rates. The first four-week period of the quarter represented the majority of earnings underperformance in the quarter.”
Costco has been reporting steady sales growth since 2009 thanks to a continued increased in its membership base, which saw 4.3 million new members signing up in 2013, according to research firm Trefis.
“Despite the miss, we believe Costco continues to fare better than most,” Janney Capital Markets analyst David Strasser said. “We would look to buy on weakness, as the core model remains intact, and the worst of the margin pressure was holiday-related.”