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    Labor Disputes Help Boost Costco Sales

    ISSAQUAH, Wash. - Costco has reported a 10 percent rise in first-quarter profit, helped by the labor disputes in Southern California, which led to increased numbers of shoppers at its warehouse clubs, the company announced in an earnings conference call yesterday.

    ISSAQUAH, Wash. - Costco has reported a 10 percent rise in first-quarter profit, helped by the labor disputes in Southern California, which led to increased numbers of shoppers at its warehouse clubs, the company announced in an earnings conference call yesterday.

    Chief financial officer Richard Galanti said the grocery strikes and lockouts at Albertsons, Kroger's Ralphs and Safeway's Vons in Southern California had boosted Costco's overall comparable sales by as much as one percentage point. The company also posted strong comparable sales rises in the Midwest and Northeast, and its international division continued to perform strongly, Galanti said.

    Net sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2004 increased 14 percent to $10.31 billion from $9.01 billion during the first quarter of fiscal 2003. On a comparable warehouse basis, that is, warehouses open at least a year, net sales increased 11 percent.

    Net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2004 increased 10 percent to $160.2 million, or 34 cents per diluted share, from $145.7 million, or 31 cents per diluted share, during the first quarter of fiscal 2003.

    Costco currently operates 429 warehouses, including 317 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 62 in Canada, 15 in the United Kingdom, five in Korea, three in Taiwan, four in Japan, and 23 in Mexico.

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