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Costco Q2 profit falls 15%; will open 14 U.S. stores

Issaquah, Wash. – Costco Wholesale Corp. reported a bigger-than-expected 15% drop in net income for the second quarter amid deep-discounting during the holidays. Net income in the quarter ended Feb. 16 fell to $463 million from $547 million.   
 
Costco blamed the lower earnings on several factors, including weaker sales of certain nonfoods merchandise categories and lower international profits. The year-ago period was also helped by a tax benefit.
 
The company noted that last year's net income was positively impacted by a $62 million tax benefit.
 
“Even with that distinction, however, the year-over-year comparison was unfavorable,” said CFO Richard Galanti. “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.”

Net sales increased 6% to $25.76 billion, from $24.34 billion. Total same-store sales rose 3%. Costco cited a positive tax benefit the company received in fiscal 2012, as well as weaker sales and gross margins in several product categories and unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates as impacting its net income.

Costco also said it plans to open 14 new stores in the U.S. by the end of fiscal 2014.

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