Costco Wholesale (Nasdaq:COST) will release its first quarter results on Wednesday, December 12, 2012. Analysts are expecting the company to report a profit of 93 cents a share, up from 80 cents a year ago.

Earnings season is important to investors because it shows how much profit is left in the company's hand after deducting costs from revenue. SEE: 5 Tricks Companies Use During Earnings Season

What to Expect: Analysts are expecting Costco to report earnings of 93 cents per share, up 16.3% from a year ago, when the company reported earnings of 80 cents per share.

For the fiscal year, analysts are expecting earnings of $4.49 per share.

Revenue is expected to exceed last year's figure of $21.63 billion by 8.6% and come in at $23.48 billion for the quarter. Revenue for the fiscal year is expected to come in at $106.04 billion.

Company Performance: Revenue for Costco has been on the rise for four consecutive quarters on a year-over-year basis. It rose 14.3% in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year, 8.2% in the third quarter of the last fiscal year, 10% in the second quarter of the last fiscal year and 12.4% in the first quarter of the last fiscal year.

COST has a P/E ratio of 27.2. Perhaps one of the most widely-used stock analysis tools is the price-to-earnings ratio, or P/E. To determine the P/E ratio, an investor divides the market price of the stock by the earnings-per-share (EPS) of the stock. SEE: How To Use The P/E Ratio And PEG To Tell The Future Of A Stock

The stock price has fallen 2% since September 10, 2012, from $100.45 to $98.47. Costco's worst recent stretch was when its stock price fell $7.48 per share between December 5, 2012 and December 6, 2012.

The Competition: Costco Wholesale operates membership warehouses that offer a selection of nationally branded and selected private-label products in categories such as food, appliances, and sporting goods, at low prices. Analysts are optimistic about Costco, with 11 of 20 assigning it a buy rating. They have become increasingly pessimistic about the stock, as the number of buy ratings has dropped slightly over the last three months.

The company's closest competitor in the retail (specialty) industry is Target (TGT). Analysts are less optimistic about Costco than about Target. Twelve out of 17 analysts rate the latter a buy.

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Tickers in this Article: COST

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