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December 9, 2003 at 4:01 AM EST

Costco Wholesale Corporation Reports First Quarter Operating Results for Fiscal 2004

ISSAQUAH, Wash., Dec 9, 2003 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Costco Wholesale Corporation (Nasdaq: COST) announced today its operating results for the first quarter (12 weeks) of fiscal 2004, ended November 23, 2003.

Net sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2004 increased 14% 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%.

Net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2004 increased 10% to $160.2 million, or $.34 per diluted share, from $145.7 million, or $.31 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. The Company also operates Costco Online, an electronic commerce web site, at The Company plans to open one additional new warehouse -- in Citrus Heights (Sacramento), California -- prior to the end of calendar year 2003.

A conference call to discuss these first quarter results is scheduled for 8:00 a.m. (PST) today, December 9, 2003, and is available via a webcast on (go to Customer Service, Investor Relations, Financial Releases and click on the "Live Webcast" icon).

Certain statements contained in this release constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. For these purposes, forward-looking statements are statements that address activities, events, conditions or developments that the Company expects, or anticipates may occur in the future. Such forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause actual events, results or performance to differ materially from those indicated by such statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, domestic and international economic conditions including exchange rates, the effects of competition and regulation, consumer and small business spending patterns and debt levels, rising costs associated with employees (including health care and workers' compensation costs), conditions affecting the acquisition, development, ownership or use of real estate, actions of vendors, and other risks identified from time to time in the Company's public statements and reports filed with the SEC.


             (dollars in thousands, except per share data)

                                                  12 Weeks Ended
                                             November 23, November 24,
                                                2003         2002
                                             ------------ ------------
 Net sales                                   $10,309,822  $ 9,010,571
 Membership fees and other                       211,656      188,014
                                             ------------ ------------
  Total revenue                               10,521,478    9,198,585
 Merchandise costs                             9,220,122    8,048,897
 Selling, general and administrative           1,032,413      888,779
 Preopening expenses                              10,125       18,117
 Provision for impaired assets and closing
  costs                                            4,000        5,000
                                             ------------ ------------
  Operating income                               254,818      237,792
 Interest expense                                 (8,475)      (8,468)
 Interest income and other                         7,903        7,634
                                             ------------ ------------
INCOME BEFORE INCOME TAXES                       254,246      236,958
 Provision for income taxes                       94,071       91,229
                                             ------------ ------------
NET INCOME                                   $   160,175  $   145,729
                                             ============ ============

 Basic                                       $      0.35  $      0.32
                                             ------------ ------------
 Diluted                                     $      0.34  $      0.31
                                             ============ ============

Shares used in calculation (000's)
 Basic                                           457,632      455,570
 Diluted                                         480,348      478,857

SOURCE: Costco Wholesale Corporation

Costco Wholesale Corporation Richard Galanti, 425-313-8203 Bob Nelson, 425-313-8255 Jeff Elliott, 425-313-8264

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