Costco Wholesale (COST) Upgraded to Buy by Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ:COST) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note released on Wednesday morning. The firm currently has $260.00 price objective on the retailer’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Costco continues to be one of the dominant retail wholesalers based on the breadth and quality of merchandise offered. The stock, which has outpaced the industry in the past six months, has been gaining from sturdy comps performance and upbeat results. Estimates have been improving ahead of the company’s first-quarter fiscal 2019 results. Certainly, Costco seems somewhat unfazed by tough retail scenario. We believe growth strategies, increase in membership fees and sturdy e-commerce sales bode well. Meanwhile, comps for the month of October rose 8.6%, while e-commerce sales advanced 20%. Undoubtedly, the robust performance indicates that the company’s growth efforts have been fueling traffic across both the online and brick-and-mortar platforms. However, analysts pointed that any incremental investments or aggressive pricing strategy may hurt margins. Moreover, rising SG&A expenses and stiff competition also pose concerns.”

Other analysts have also issued reports about the stock. BMO Capital Markets set a $260.00 target price on shares of Costco Wholesale and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Monday, September 10th. Stifel Nicolaus increased their target price on shares of Costco Wholesale from $220.00 to $245.00 and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Friday, September 7th. Loop Capital set a $265.00 target price on shares of Costco Wholesale and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Thursday, September 6th. Cowen reiterated a buy rating and set a $240.00 target price on shares of Costco Wholesale in a report on Friday, August 10th. Finally, Argus set a $255.00 target price on shares of Costco Wholesale and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Tuesday, August 21st. Eight investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, eighteen have issued a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the stock. Costco Wholesale presently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $236.85.

NASDAQ COST opened at $224.86 on Wednesday. The company has a quick ratio of 0.46, a current ratio of 1.02 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.50. Costco Wholesale has a 12-month low of $175.79 and a 12-month high of $245.16. The stock has a market cap of $102.19 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 32.92, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.97 and a beta of 0.90.

Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ:COST) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 4th. The retailer reported $2.36 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $2.34 by $0.02. Costco Wholesale had a net margin of 2.21% and a return on equity of 24.67%. The business had revenue of $44.41 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $44.17 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $2.08 earnings per share. The company’s revenue was up 5.0% on a year-over-year basis. Sell-side analysts predict that Costco Wholesale will post 7.7 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, November 23rd. Investors of record on Friday, November 9th were paid a $0.57 dividend. This represents a $2.28 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.01%. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, November 8th. Costco Wholesale’s payout ratio is currently 33.38%.

In related news, insider W Craig Jelinek sold 22,500 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, October 30th. The shares were sold at an average price of $223.52, for a total value of $5,029,200.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 322,958 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $72,187,572.16. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, VP Richard A. Galanti sold 4,163 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, October 30th. The stock was sold at an average price of $227.23, for a total transaction of $945,958.49. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 32,270 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $7,332,712.10. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last three months, insiders sold 61,312 shares of company stock valued at $13,847,852. 0.74% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Great Lakes Advisors LLC increased its stake in shares of Costco Wholesale by 25.6% during the third quarter. Great Lakes Advisors LLC now owns 15,521 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $3,646,000 after purchasing an additional 3,168 shares in the last quarter. Carnegie Capital Asset Management LLC increased its stake in shares of Costco Wholesale by 62.2% during the third quarter. Carnegie Capital Asset Management LLC now owns 12,325 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $2,847,000 after purchasing an additional 4,726 shares in the last quarter. Central Bank & Trust Co. increased its stake in shares of Costco Wholesale by 4.5% during the third quarter. Central Bank & Trust Co. now owns 29,612 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $6,955,000 after purchasing an additional 1,278 shares in the last quarter. Belpointe Asset Management LLC increased its stake in shares of Costco Wholesale by 8.1% during the third quarter. Belpointe Asset Management LLC now owns 5,808 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $1,364,000 after purchasing an additional 437 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Vanguard Group Inc. increased its stake in shares of Costco Wholesale by 0.4% during the third quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 35,457,639 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $8,328,292,000 after purchasing an additional 158,722 shares in the last quarter. 71.16% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

About Costco Wholesale

Costco Wholesale Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, operates membership warehouses. It offers branded and private-label products in a range of merchandise categories. The company provides dry and packaged foods, and groceries; snack foods, candies, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, and cleaning supplies; appliances, electronics, health and beauty aids, hardware, and garden and patio products; meat, bakery, deli, and produces; and apparel and small appliances.

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