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Costco Analysts Boost Price Targets After Earnings Beat

Costco analysts raise their price targets after the warehouse-retailing giant beats Wall Street's earnings expectations.

Costco Wholesale  (COST) - Get Costco Wholesale Corporation Report analysts rallied around the big-box retailer after it beat Wall Street's fourth-quarter earnings expectations.

Shares of the Issaquah, Wash., company at last check were up 2.4% to $463.58. Two weeks ago the stock touched a 52-week high near $470.

On Thursday after the closing bell Costco reported fourth-quarter net income of $1.67 billion, or $3.76 a share, as revenue increased 18% from a year earlier to $61.44 billion.

Morgan Stanley analyst Simeon Gutmann, who has an overweight rating on the stock, raised his price target to $510 from $500.

He said in a research note that Costco's "results have consistently been among the best in retail."

Gutman said Costco could grow comparable sales and revenue close to its historic algorithm in fiscal 2022.

"For most companies," Gutman said, lapping their toughest multiyear sales and margin comparisons ever is a recipe for their stocks to tread water or even underperform." 

But at Costco, he said, growth was achievable due to factors such as its steady membership-growth rate, current members renewing at an all time high, and strong inventory availability.

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"Looking back, COST has a track record of rising to the occasion against seemingly tough [comparisons] with outperformance, and we expect the same in fiscal 2022," he said. 

Barclays analyst Karen Short raised her price target on Costco to $510 from $450, while affirming her overweight rating, saying the company "is better positioned than most retailers to execute in this environment."

Short said customer traffic and comps remain robust and can be sustained along with wider profit margins. Costco also might declare a special dividend, and a membership-fee increase could be on the horizon, she said.

"All said, we believe COST is clearly a best-in-class retailer that continues to gain share in a sustainable manner, and we remain constructive on the stock," Short said.

J.P. Morgan Christopher Horvers has an overweight rating and a $502 price target. 

Costco, he said, "continues to mitigate increases through vendor negotiations and cost discipline/efficiency while holding off on price increases where possible."

"We believe COST continues to be a core holding given that its unrivaled value proposition (11% gross margins) to its fiercely loyal customer base (about 90% renewal rate) and global growth opportunity (2% to 3% annually and likely double the current store base from here) are a rare combination in retail and consumer staples," Horvers said.

Costco had drawn mixed reviews from analysts ahead of its earnings release.