Costco (COST 0.75%) has shown that it's somewhat invulnerable to the so-called retail apocalypse. The warehouse club has pretty much stayed the course and remained a largely brick-and-mortar-based business, even as other physical retailers have lost sales to digital rivals.
The chain has also been a big winner during the coronavirus pandemic. It sells the staples people need, and, while it has experienced some shortages, it has generally been able to keep its members supplied with food, household items, and other necessities.
Costco has shown its strength during this crisis. It has also demonstrated that it's a long-term buy. Here are three reasons why.
1. It's a bit of a bargain
While Costco's share price has not collapsed in the way that those of many other retailers have, it's still a bit of a deal. The price on shares of the warehouse club's stock closed Monday, March 23, at $285.53, down about 12.2% from its 52-week high of $325.26.
Costco has been one of the big sales winners of the coronavirus. It has already reported that it has had a sales spike, and when it reports earnings the numbers should be very strong.
2. It pays shareholders
The warehouse club pays a quarterly dividend. And while many dividend-paying stocks may have to revisit their payouts due to sales disruptions during the coronavirus pandemic, Costco won't have to do that.
In fact, before this crisis had begun Costco was hinting at paying a special dividend. That's something the retail chain has done three times before: $7 per share in 2012, $5 per share in 2015, and $7 per share in 2017. There is, of course, no guarantee that the warehouse club will make a special dividend payment, but CFO Richard Galanti did say it was under consideration during the chain's first-quarter earnings call in December.
3. It can evolve slowly
As a membership-based business, Costco does not have to be a leader when it comes to technology or changing its business to embrace the digital economy. The company has shown that it can sit back, let other retailers figure out what works, and then pick and choose what it wants to do.
Costco took a very slow approach to selling anything through its website. It did the same with delivery, and in both cases, it hasn't been an innovator or even a late-to-the-game leader. Instead, it has shown it can do just enough and maintain near-90% renewal rates while also growing sales.
It's about low prices
Costco has shown an unwavering commitment to keeping prices low. It has gone to extraordinary lengths to do that (like farming its own chickens), and that's clearly what its customers want.
The chain's members shop at Costco when the economy is strong, but the retailer becomes even more relevant during hard times. In fact, the current crisis may see the warehouse club add members and strengthen its bond with existing members.
Costco is a long-term buy. You can put these shares in your portfolio, collect a dividend, and not have to worry much about how economic or market conditions will impact your shares.