Updated from 9:44 a.m. EDTSAN FRANCISCO -- Costco ( COST) has rewarded the faithful. Shares of the warehouse-club chain hit a record high Wednesday after the company topped fourth-quarter earnings expectations and posted better-than-anticipated sales for September. That soothed fears raised by the retailer's
For the September selling period, Costco reported a 6% climb in same-store sales, topping Wall Street's target for a 4.9% gain. September's U.S. same-store sales rose 4%, while international same-store sales soared 13%. On a conference call with analysts, Costco Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti cautioned that the strong fourth quarter should not be used as a template for next year. He said analysts' average estimate for a first-quarter profit of 59 cents a share was a bit too high, and instead guided to earnings per share in the mid to high 50s. Despite nervousness in the retail industry of a promotional holiday season this year -- discount giant Wal-Mart ( WMT) has already begun holiday-related price cuts -- Galanti said he does not expect any big strategy changes for Costco. "In terms of competitive pricing, I haven't seen any need to do anything crazy there," he said. For the current fiscal year, the company expects earnings to range in the high $2.80s to $3. Analysts, on average, predict earnings of $2.91. Shares of Costco recently were up $5.68, or 9%, to $68.99. The stock easily surpassed its previous high of $65.57, set Aug. 9.