July 23 (Bloomberg) -- Costco Wholesale Corp., the largest U.S. warehouse-club chain, fell the most in more than three years in Nasdaq trading after saying fourth-quarter earnings would be ``well below'' analysts' estimates because of energy costs.
Costco kept prices lower than planned to retain customers, Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said today in a statement. The Issaquah, Washington-based company also said it will repurchase an extra $1 billion of its stock.
Record fuel and soaring food costs prompted U.S. consumers to trim spending and make fewer trips to stores. The gasoline unit will suffer a ``negative swing'' in profit, Galanti said. Costco's expenses increased, and fuel profit margin likely narrowed as it tried to lure people with lower prices.
Fourth-quarter per-share earnings are expected to miss the $1.00 consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by First Call, Costco said in today's statement. The average estimate of 21 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for fourth-quarter adjusted earnings per share of $0.998.
Costco fell $5.93, or 8.2 percent, to $66.07 at 10:38 a.m. in Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading, the biggest one-day decline since April 2005. Earlier, it dropped 13 percent to $62.31. The company runs 537 warehouses, with 393 in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.