Costco Posts 24% Increase in May Sales to $15.59 Billion

Costco says U.S. comparable sales were up 21.9% in May, while e-commerce sales increased 12.1%.
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Costco  (COST) - Get Report reported a surge in May sales on Thursday, leading one analyst to write that the bulk discount retailer was the "clear COVID winner."

Shares of the Issaquah, Washington company were up 0.6% to $385.99 at last check. Shares are up 2.1% year to date, compared to 12.3% for the S&P 500.

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The company said net sales totaled $15.59 billion in May, up 24.2% from a year ago. Same-store sales in the U.S. rose 21.9%, while e-commerce sales increased 12.1%. 

Costco noted that this year’s May retail month had one additional shopping day compared with last year, due to the calendar shift of Memorial Day, helping sales by about 2% to 2 1/2%, the company said.

"Reiterating our ongoing theme, we continue to believe that COST is a core long-term holding and that it has so often showed that it can be a winner in different environments (during the financial crisis, during a pro-consumer discretionary period, during a pandemic, etc.)," said JP Morgan analyst Christopher Horvers, who maintained his overweight rating and $240 price target. 

As 2021 progresses, the analyst added, "whether the consumer is eating more at home or feeling good enough to engage in the treasure hunt atmosphere of its 140K [square foot] box (or use its attractive travel options), we see COST as a share gainer."

Wells Fargo analyst Edward Kelly raised his price target to $415 from $400 while keeping an overweight rating on the shares, according to the Fly.

The company "was a clear COVID winner on fundamentals" Kelly said, but he added that there is reason to believe it may be a subtle way to play the reopening as well. 

Comparable store sales have averaged just under 13% in the year following the start of the pandemic, so concerns about later comparisons aren't unwarranted, the analyst said. 

But Kelly said he still sees under-appreciated offsets, namely dining out demand, resumption of the services businesses, the return of household gatherings and accelerated membership growth.

He said he continues to see upside in the name even after its run since early March.

Jefferies analyst Stephanie Wissink, who has a buy rating on the stock and a $445 share price target, raised her fiscal fourth-quarter comparable sales estimate to +6% "on May strength and assuming a more modest tapering through the rest of the quarter based on continued momentum, especially in food."

Wissink added that she was monitoring the broader reopening of California on June 15, which she said is Costco's largest state, accounting for about 30% of U.S. sales.

Barclays analyst Karen Short, who has an overweight rating and a $450 price target, said she believes 2022 "will be the year of the consumer hangover," and "we believe COST will benefit in this environment given price gaps to conventional and non-conventional peers."

"CY22 could be the year that COST increases the membership fee based on the historical cadence as COST laps the 5-year mark of their last membership fee increase in June 2017," Short wrote in a research note.

Last month, Costco beat analysts' fiscal third quarter earnings expectations and also reported same store sales that were ahead of guidance.

In April, Costco reported stronger-than-expected March sales data. 

The company reported lower-than-expected profit for the fiscal second quarter due to continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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