Costco Wholesale (COST) continued to stand out vs. other discounters and retailers overall, reporting fiscal first-quarter earnings Wednesday that beat analyst estimates.
The warehouse club giant Costco earned 95 cents a share, up 19% vs. an adjusted 80 cents a year earlier. That snapped a four-quarter string of accelerating EPS growth. But analysts had expected 93 cents.
Net revenue rose 10% to $23.2 billion, as Costco previously reported. Same-store sales grew 7% overall and in the U.S., with a 9% international gain.
Membership fees rose 14% to $511 million. That more than ac counts for the $416 million in net income. But it was a little less than some analysts expected.
Costco operates 621 warehouses. Its shares fell 59 cents to 97.72, their second straight fractional loss after hitting a record high intraday Tuesday.
Stock Paying Dividend But the stock has rallied strongly since late November, when Costco announced it would pay a $7-a-share special dividend to beat the possible near-tripling of dividend tax rates as part of the year-end fiscal cliff.
Wal-Mart's accelerated dividend hasn't done much to help its shares. CEO Mike Duke said late Tuesday that a weak economy and fiscal cliff concerns are hurting Wal-Mart's moderate-income clientele, affecting sales.
Wal-Mart shares fell nearly 3%, nearing their 200-day moving average after finding support there last month. The stock peaked in mid-October.
Specialty discounters also have struggled. Dollar General (DG) reported better-than-expected third-quarter profit on Tuesday, but its implied Q4 guidance was below Wall Street forecasts. The retailer cited cautious consumers and increased competition.
Dollar General shares tumbled 8% on Tuesday to a nine-month low. Dollar Tree (DLTR) lost 4%. Family Dollar (FDO), which had been doing better than its rivals, slumped 8%, plunging through its 200-day line.
All three stocks rallied Wednesday, but recouped only a fraction of Tuesday's big losses.
Several apparel makers and retailers also suffered significant stock losses, including Foot Locker (FL), down nearly 4%.