Sales for Costco Wholesale Corp., the multinational, membership-only warehouse store with a market cap of nearly $152 billion, beat analysts’ expectations for its fourth quarter.

In its 16-week quarter ending Aug. 30, the Washington-based company’s net sales reached nearly $52.3 billion, up 12.5 percent from the same quarter a year ago, according to its earnings release filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday. The company posted its fourth quarter earnings per diluted share of $3.13, up from $2.47 per diluted share a year ago.

Amid a struggling retail industry, store chains like Costco that sell groceries, hygiene products and other necessities have been buoyed by customer shopping trends during the coronavirus pandemic. Shopping at Costco means buying in bulk, with fewer trips to the store as shoppers stay home and observe social distancing precautions.

But Costco’s gains this quarter were still offset by virus-related expenses: $281 million in hazard pay for employees and sanitation costs. Costco operates 795 warehouses and more e-commerce sites internationally — the majority of them in the United States. The company’s U.S. sales were up 13.6 percent this quarter, compared to a year ago, while Canada stores had a 12.6 percent uptick and other international store sales were up 18.8 percent, according to the report. E-commerce sales worldwide were up 91.3 percent.

The Washington Post

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