Hey, no surprise here -- Costco
Fourth-quarter net income increased 7% to $397.8 million, or $0.90 per share; this included $0.07 per share in charges related to pre-tax LIFO charges and a charge related to a litigation expense. Net sales increased 13% to $33.63 billion. Same-store sales increased 8%; excluding gasoline price inflation, they lifted 6%.
You may recall that back in July, Costco warned that it would deliver fourth-quarter earnings lower than analysts' expectations for $1.00 per share (although it offered up a consolation prize in the form of an increase in its buyback). That has indeed come to pass, but I'd say that Costco's fourth-quarter results look pretty decent when the consumer is increasingly strapped for cash (not to mention spooked by the macroeconomic environment).
Discount retailers like Costco and Wal-Mart
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Costco trades at 20 times trailing earnings, which can certainly be seen as a premium compared to the multiples of its rivals (although note that Sears Holdings is trading at what I'd say is an outlandish P/E of 23, given its recent lackluster performance). In addition, Costco's multiple is about in line with its having increased earnings by 22% in the last year. Still, though, sometimes a premium is in order, and Costco is weathering the economic storm quite well, and plus it's simply a solid, well-run company. I still believe Costco is a great idea for investors, through thick and thin.
Wal-Mart Stores, Sears Holdings, and Berkshire Hathaway are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Costco Wholesale and Berkshire Hathaway are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.