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Costco first-quarter profit grows 17 percent as sales grow

ISSAQUAH, Wash. (AP) — Costco Wholesale Corp. said Thursday that its first-quarter profit grew 17 percent, fueled by strong sales at its warehouse stores where members buy in bulk.

The Issaquah, Washington-based company said it earned $640 million, or $1.45 per share, in its fiscal first quarter that ended Nov. 26. That’s up from $545 million, or $1.24 per share a year earlier.

When a one-time gain for changes in accounting rules is excluded, Costco made $1.36 a share in the quarter.

The 13 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research expected adjusted earnings per share of $1.35 on average.

Sales grew 10.5 percent at Costco’s warehouse stores that have been open at least two years. This year’s quarter got a boost because it included Black Friday sales around Thanksgiving. Last year those sales fell in its fiscal second quarter.

The warehouse club operator posted total revenue of $31.81 billion in the period, also exceeding Street forecasts. Seven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $31.52 billion.

Costco shares have risen 17 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has increased 18 percent

Its stock slipped 6 cents to $37.84 in after-market trading following the release of the earnings report.

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