This Big Warehouse Operator Took in Nearly $1 Billion in Membership Fees Last Quarter Alone

While one of the most recognizable wholesale warehouse operators recently reported a good second quarter, taking in nearly $1 billion in membership fees, that’s not what impresses Real Money Columnist Stephen “Sarge” Guilfoyle most.

And in fact, he remains concerned about the company’s relatively high valuation.

“Not that Costco has done anything wrong,” Guilfoyle wrote in a recent Real Money column. “They are executing exceptionally well. I need this chart to tell me something more defined before I spend my cash on equity.”

In particular, Guilfoyle noted that Target  (TGT) – Get Target Corporation Report trades at 15 times forward looking earnings while Walmart  (WMT) – Get Walmart Inc. Report trades at 20 times. Costco, by contrast, is trading above 40 times forward earnings. 

Still, both membership fees and operating income rose for Costco in the latest quarter, Guilfoyle noted. 

Membership fees increased by 9.8% from $881 million to $967 million. Renewal rates were 92% in North America and 89.6% globally. Costco’s operating income rose by 35.2% to $1.812 billion even as merchandise costs grew by 16.5% to $45.52 billion. .

Costco reported GAAP EPS of $2.92 on revenue of $51.9 revenue, which both beat Wall Street’s top and bottom lines. 

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“Perhaps the most impressive part of this story lies in comparable sales for the three months,” Guilfoyle wrote.

Comparable sales in the U.S. produced growth of 15.8%, adjusted down to 11.3% to account for the impacts from changes in gasoline prices and currency exchange rates while in Canada, comparable sales also rose by 16.2%, adjusted down to 12.4%. 

International comparable sales increased by 6.2%, adjusted up to 9%. The entire company’s comparable sales generated growth of 14.4%, adjusted down to 11.1%. E-commerce sales also did well and rose by 12.5%, adjusted up to 12.6%.

The company reported a net cash balance of $12.296 billion, an increase from 12 months ago, but down sequentially while its current assets printed are $32.565 billion, an increase from November as accounts receivables grew.

The only sticking point is that Costco’s debt-to-assets ratio could be lower, but supply chain issues mean the retailer had to be proactive.

The company’s current liabilities declined from November to $31.54 billion, but Costco’’s ratio stood at 1.03. That number “is not as high as I would like, but it does pass the Sarge test, and might be considered understandable given that the firm has had to maintain an elevated level of inventories for about six months now,” Guilfoyle noted.

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