James Sinegal and Jeffrey H. Brotman opened the first Costco in Seattle, Washington, on Sept. 15, 1983. By the end of the following year, Sinegal and Brotman had expanded Costco to nine locations in five states. Through a relationship with Sol Price and Price Club, Costco merged with Price Club in 1993. The merged companies combined to be called PriceCostco. In 1994 the Price family later left with a spinoff to form Price Enterprises – doing warehouse discount business in Central America and the Caribbean. In 1997 the company later changed its name to Costco Wholesale Corporation.

A little more than two years after opening their first store, Sinegal and Brotman took Costco public in an initial public offering on Dec. 1, 1985. Costco has since established itself as one of the largest companies in the discount variety stores industry, managing to ward off competition from retail rivals Walmart, Target, and Amazon. Costco is valued at $100.22 billion as of Dec. 11, 2018.

What If You Had Invested $1,000 Right After Costco's IPO?

Costco debuted as a public company with a market price of $10 per share. Let's say you made a $1,000 investment in Costco by purchasing 100 shares at the company's IPO price. As a result of several stock splits and the company's performance, that initial investment of $1,000 would have grown into 600 shares worth more than $130,000 nearly 35 years later. Here's how it would happen.

Costco's Stock Split History (Dec. 1, 1985 - Dec. 1, 2018)
Date Stock Split Shares Share Price Investment Value
Dec. 1, 1985 IPO 100 $10.00 $1,000.00
May 15, 1991 2 for 1 200 $12.50 $2,500.00
Mar. 6, 1992 3 for 2 300 $12.63 $3,789.00
Jan. 13, 2000 2 for 1 600 $47.47 $28,482.00
Dec. 1, 2018 Today 600 $231.28 $138,768.00

A stock split is a corporate action in which a company decides to increase its shares outstanding by a multiple, while simultaneously reducing the market price per share by the same factor. Although the market capitalization of the company does not change, stock prices tend to exceed their previous highs. This was concurrent with Costco's impressive performance.

Costco initiated its first two-for-one stock split on May 15, 1991 at the price of $12.50 per share. On May 15, your 100 share investment worth $1,000 would have become 200 shares worth $2,500. One year later, Costco announced a three-for-two stock split on Mar. 6, 1992 at the share price of $12.63. After Costco's second stock split, your 200 shares worth $2,500 would have grown to 300 shares worth $3,789. On Jan. 13, 2000, Costco announced its second two-for-one stock split at the share price of $47.47. That final stock split would have turned your 300 shares worth $3789 investment into 600 shares worth $28,482. At today's price, those same 600 shares would be worth $231.28 each, or $138,768 in total.

How Much Would You Have Made in Dividends?

If the tune of $138,768 isn't compelling enough for you, then it may be worth considering how much you would have received in quarterly cash dividend payments from Costco. Costco distributed its first quarterly dividend of 10 cents per share in 2004 and has since increased its annual dividend each fiscal year. After nearly 15 years of dividends, including several special dividends valued at $5.00 and $7.00 per share, your 600 shares would have earned you approximately $12,696.00. Here's how it would have happened.

Costco's Dividend History (2004 - 2018)
Fiscal Year Dividend Per Share Dividend Payout at 600 Shares
2004 $0.10 $60.00
2005 $0.12 $72.00
2006 $0.13 $78.00
2007 $0.15 $90.00
2008 $0.16 $96.00
2009 $0.18 $108.00
2010 $0.21 $126.00
2011 $0.24 $144.00
2012 $0.28 $168.00
2012 $7.00 (Special) $4,200.00
2013 $0.31 $186.00
2014 $0.36 $216.00
2015 $0.40 $240.00
2015 $5.00 (Special) $3,000.00
2016 $0.45 $270.00
2017 $0.50 $300.00
2017 $5.00 (Special) $3,000.00
2018 $0.57 $342
Total   $12,696.00