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Costco profits higher than anticipated

Costco Wholesale Corp. on Wednesday reported a fiscal second-quarter profit that topped Wall Street expectations as the company’s low prices continued to attract customers and drive sales.

The wholesale club operator, based in Issaquah, Wash., said its net income rose 13 percent as sales at stores open at least a year increased.

Costco said net income rose to $394 million, or 90 cents per share, for the three months ended Feb. 12, compared with $348 million, or 79 cents per share, a year ago.

Analysts on average had forecast a profit of 88 cents per share, according to FactSet.

For the latest quarter, Costco said revenue at stores open at least a year climbed 8 percent, or 7 percent when excluding the impact of higher gas prices and foreign currencies.

On average, Costco said customers spent 2.4 percent more per visit during the quarter. The frequency of visits also rose by 5.2 percent.

“We’re always going to match or try to be lower than our competitors,” Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said.