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    Frugal Consumers Boost Q3 Sales, Profits for Costco

    The warehouse club retailer beat Wall Street expectations with a 32 percent jump in income, with food and fuel playing leading roles.

    The economic climate drove double-digit increases in both sales and profits for Costco Wholesale Corp.'s fiscal third quarter, as cash-conscious consumers increasingly seek out bargains.

    The retailer surpassed Wall Street's expectations with a 32 percent jump in profit - to $295.1 million, or 67 cents per share -- for the quarter, up from $224 million, or 49 cents last year.

    Sales increased 13 percent to $16.26 billion from $14.34 billion in 2007. Including membership fees, revenue rose to $16.61 billion from $14.66 billion.

    According to c.f.o. Richard Galanti, revenue from food and gas increased, while that of jewelry, home furnishings, electronics, and other hard- and soft-line goods weakened.

    Same-store sales rose 5 percent among Costco's U.S. stores for the quarter and 6 percent year to date (excluding gas price inflation)

    Year to date profit was $884.9 million, or $1.99 per share, compared to $710.4 million, or $1.54 per share last year.

    Costco operates 538 warehouses, including 394 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 75 in Canada, 19 in the United Kingdom, six in Korea, five in Taiwan, eight in Japan, and 31 in Mexico. It plans to open an additional nine to 10 new warehouses (including the relocation of four warehouses to larger and better-located facilities) prior to the end of its 2008 fiscal year on August 31.

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