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Inflation Won't Dampen Demand: Costco

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Costco Wholesale Corp. here said Wednesday it anticipates some inflation in fresh foods, particularly proteins, with increases in the mid- to high single-digit range likely over the next six to nine months.

“Beyond that, it’s hit and miss,” Richard A. Galanti, executive vice president and chief financial officer, told analysts. Asked if the anticipated price increases would be enough to dampen demand, he replied, “Not on our part."

Read more: Drought Impacts Protein Prices

In response to another question, he said Costco has not seen any changes in customer behavior due to concerns about the looming “fiscal cliff.”

“We’re a little jaded here because our numbers have been pretty darned good,” Galanti explained. “But like everybody, I think we have a little cautious optimism that [elected officials] are going to do at least a compromise — or they’d better. So we’re not really focusing on that a lot right now."

Net income for the 12-week first quarter, which ended Nov. 25, rose 30% to $416 million, while net sales increased 9.6% to $23.2 billion. Comparable sales, excluding gasoline, were up 6%, with a 2.5% increase in average transactions and an average increase in frequency of just under 5%.

The company said it plans to pay a special dividend of $7 per share on Dec. 18 to shareholders of record Dec. 10, for a total return of just over $3 billion.

Read more: Costco to Accelerate Warehouse Openings

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