Costco Earnings Hit by Increased Coronavirus Costs

Costco said that the pandemic cut into fiscal-third-quarter profit, creating $283 million of wage and sanitation costs.

Costco Wholesale  (COST) - Get Report reported earnings that lagged analysts’ forecasts, with costs rising as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

At last check shares of the Issaquah, Wash., membership-based warehouse retailer were off 1.6% at $304.60.

For the fiscal 2020 third quarter ended May 10, net income totaled $838 million, or $1.89 a share, compared with $906 million, or $2.05, in the year-earlier quarter. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had predicted $1.96 a share for the latest quarter.

Revenue increased 7.3% to $36.45 billion from $33.96 billion a year earlier, as consumers scrambled for goods amid the pandemic. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected $37.02 billion for the latest quarter.

The latest quarter's net income was lowered by $283 million, or 47 cents a share, stemming from wage and sanitation costs related to the pandemic.

The year-earlier net income benefited from a nonrecurring tax item of $73 million, or 16 cents a share.

Morningstar analyst Zain Akbari sees a bright future for Costco, without much lasting impact from the coronavirus pandemic.

“With a besotted membership base, low-frills warehouse shopping experience, and growth opportunities at home and abroad, we expect Costco’s durable competitive advantages to lead to consistent, strong performance despite the upheaval in retail,” he wrote in a commentary last month.

“We believe the values that Costco offers (driven by cost leverage, procurement strength, and sector-leading store efficiency) should allow it to keep traffic high.”

Costco stock has gained 5.6% over the past three months, compared with a 1.7% gain for the S&P 500. 

Costco currently operates 787 stores, among them 547 in the U.S. and Puerto Rico and 100 in Canada.