NEW YORK, January 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Membership warehouse club Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) [ Full Research Report] (1) posted net sales of $11.21 billion for the month of December 2012 alone, or $34.42 billion for the first 17 weeks of its fiscal year. Inflation in gasoline prices and stronger foreign currencies contributed around 1 percent of the total comparable sales in that same period. The company was also able to pay out a hefty $7 per share dividend payment last year - though ahead of schedule - fearing a possible tax increase amid the fiscal cliff deal. Fortunately, a compromise was reached between Congress and investors to keep the existing 15 percent dividend rate for most investors. Those who earn more than $400,000 are now at 20 percent. A report from Investment Contrarians say Costco is a "wonderful example" of consistency and steady price appreciation, with the stock price rising from a respectable $50 in 2010 and upwards of double that in beginning of this year. We can anticipate that to increase further into the next few years, with Thomson Financial estimating sales growth of 7.4 percent and 8.5 percent for the 2013 and 2014 fiscal years. The company's sales model focuses on selling products at strictly low prices and in high volume without spending "frivolous" expenses on details such as advertising, marketing, and store signs. The goods are delivered virtually at cost to its members, rather Costco's profits are brought in through its membership fees. A Motley Fool report says those fees are only 2 percent of the revenue, but 77 percent of its operating income. The report adds that there was "no appreciable loss of membership" after Costco raised membership fees by 10 percent in late 2011, meaning it can pass along the savings to members. Also they don't stock as wide a variety of goods like Wal-Mart, nevertheless Costco has great buying power despite being a smaller company.