Costco Wholesale Corp. shares rose 1.8% late Thursday after the giant retailer reported earnings above expectations but flat same-store sales. Costco said it earned $779 million, or $1.77 a share, in its 16-week fourth quarter, compared with $767 million, or $1.73 a share, in the year-ago period. Net sales rose 2% to $35.7 billion in the quarter, the company said. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected the company to report earnings of $1.73 a share on revenue of $35.7 billion. Costco said its U.S. same-store sales fell 1% in the quarter, while total same-store sales were flat. Excluding gasoline sales and foreign-exchange adjustments, however, comparable-store sales were up 3% in the quarter. The company plans to open nine new warehouses before the end of the year, it said in a statement. Shares had ended the regular session down 1.3%.
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