What happened

Costco (NASDAQ:COST) shareholders outperformed a booming market last year as the stock jumped 44% compared to a 29% spike in the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Shares tracked ahead of the market for most of the year, but that gap widened through the final quarter of 2019.

A man buys eggs in bulk.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Costco benefited from ideal selling conditions in the wider retailing industry that lifted peers such as Walmart and Target to new highs. But, as usual, the warehouse giant outperformed nearly all of its competitors. Customer traffic jumped 4% in the fiscal fourth quarter to push comparable-store sales up 5%, which stacked up well against the 3% boosts that both Walmart and Target posted.

Now what

The consumer staples giant's first sales report of 2020 showed that its momentum has continued into the new year. Comparable-store sales jumped 9% in December, in fact, although a significant portion of that surge came from a calendar shift that pushed Black Friday a week later this year. Still, the report raised expectations that Costco might announce more good news when it reports its fiscal second-quarter results on March 5.

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