Monday, March 17, 2014

BJ's Wholesale versus Costco

When it comes down to spending my own money, shareholder or not, I'm not doing it at Costco.

We recently joined Costco.   It was a mistake.   Costco is famous for paying its employees well and providing them with good benefits.   It must be nice to work there.

But as a consumer, the prices are higher - perhaps as a result.   Costco is like BJ's wholesale, but for yuppies.   BJ's is definitely a lot more blue-collar.

For example, take their wine departments.   You can buy a nice inexpensive Cava from Spain for $6.99 at BJ's.   At Costco?  It's either upper-end champagnes, or Korbel.   Uh, no thanks.

They have a lot of nice wines at Costco, but they are all in the $20-and-up range.   You don't have to spend a lot to get a nice bottle of wine.   Except of course, at Costco.

And it is the same across the board.   Costco's prices are higher and the goods are generally more upscale.   When we found comparable goods at BJ's, the prices were at least 10-20% higher.   And yet, that's a lot.

So, should I sell my Costco stock?   Well, there are legions of clueless yuppies out there who do shop there.  And I don't mind taking a profit at their expense - just as I don't mind making a profit on my Altria stock, every time some redneck buys a pack of cigarettes at the convenience store.

Costco's stock has done fairly well in recent years:

COSTIndustry AveragePercentile
in Industry
Market Capitalization$49.89B$10.37B93rd
Beta (1 Year Annualized)1.060.7717th
Current Consensus EPS Estimate$1.10----
EPS Growth
(TTM vs. Prior TTM)
Dividend Yield (Annual)
Total Revenue (TTM)
Revenue Growth
(TTM vs Prior TTM)
Shares Outstanding439,878,0001,607,591,29675th
Shares Short* 3.76M----
Institutional Ownership75.25%44.63%65th

With earnings per share of $4.45, a P/E ratio of 25 (fairly rational compared to Linked-in's 600+) it doesn't seem like a bad stock.  The Dividend yield is a paltry 1% at today's prices.  But since I bought it long ago, I'm making 2% on my money, which still is not stellar - but then again, I'm looking at a 100% capital gains.

So I guess I'll keep it - and keep shopping at BJ's.

Because when it comes down to taking money out of my wallet, I'm going to the place with the lowest prices.