5. Costco Wholesale (COST)

10-Year EBITDA Growth Rate:  10.50%

Warren Buffett's Portfolio Weighting at of 12-31-2013:  0.49%

Value Of Holdings:  $515.8 million

Costco Wholesale  (COST) is a large warehouse chain operating in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and several other countries. Costco allows consumers to buy products from groceries to electronics in bulk at lower prices by purchasing goods directly from the manufacturer.

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TheStreet Ratings team rates COSTCO WHOLESALE CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of B+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate COSTCO WHOLESALE CORP (COST) a BUY. This is driven by a few notable strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 6.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 5.8%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 68.55% to $713.00 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, COSTCO WHOLESALE CORP has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -7.28%.
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.43, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels. Despite the fact that COST's debt-to-equity ratio is low, the quick ratio, which is currently 0.56, displays a potential problem in covering short-term cash needs.
  • Compared to where it was 12 months ago, the stock is up, but it has so far lagged the appreciation in the S&P 500. Looking ahead, the stock's rise over the last year has already helped drive it to a level which is relatively expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that the other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.
  • COSTCO WHOLESALE CORP's earnings per share declined by 15.3% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. We feel it is likely to report a decline in earnings in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, COSTCO WHOLESALE CORP increased its bottom line by earning $4.63 versus $3.90 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 0.4% in earnings ($4.61 versus $4.63).
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: COST Ratings Report
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