Costco announces mixed earnings report as slower sales of ‘big-ticket’ items offset by higher food sales

Costco's Kirkland Brand saw higher-than-normal penetration in food sales amid ongoing inflation

Costco announced earnings for the second quarter of the company’s fiscal year that delivered mixed results that mostly beat expectations.

Costco’s net sales for the quarter jumped to $54.24 billion – an increase of 6.5% that came in shy of estimates of $55.5 billion. Earnings per share were $3.30 a share for the quarter ending Feb. 12, up from $2.92 per share for a comparable period ending a year ago.

CFO Richard Galanti spoke on the earnings call and said that there were some signs of "weakness in big-ticket discretionary items" in product categories like apparel, electronics and jewelry.

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A Costco store in California

Costco's CEO Craig Jelinek noted some weakness in sales of big-ticket items on a call discussing the members-only retailer's latest earnings report. (Eric Thayer / Getty Images / File / Getty Images)

Those areas had been a significant source of strength in the last two years but have softened amid ongoing inflation. For example, Galanti noted that the number of TVs sold has been relatively consistent, although the average sales prices have declined.

That was balanced out by an increase in sales in Costco’s fresh food, food and sundries (e.g. miscellaneous) categories.

"People are spending their dollars where they feel they should be spending them," Galanti told investors on the call. Galanti noted that average transactions and visit frequency were up at the members-only retailer.

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Costco Food

Costco's sales of fresh food and other food items, particularly its Kirkland Brand private label, were a source of strength in its latest earnings report. (Smith Collection / Gado / File / Getty Images)

Revenue from membership fees rose from $967 million to $1.027 billion from a year ago. Galanti said that renewal rates for its members in the U.S., Canada and worldwide were at all-time highs.

He also noted that Costco saw an increase of about 1.5% in food sales for its private label, Kirkland Brands. That figure typically runs around 0.5% for Kirkland Brands’ penetration in that category.

"People are looking to save money, and it’s our brand, that’s great, and it creates loyalty," Galanti said.

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Reuters contributed to this report.

This article has been updated to clarify that it was CFO Richard Galanti, rather than CEO Craig Jelinek, speaking on the earnings call.