) to in-line from outperform.
Analyst George Strachan says the new rating falls within his cautious view of the broadlines retail universe. He thinks a first quarter, same-store sales rise should be about 2%, similar to November same store sales. On that basis, Strachan says he expects earnings per share for the first quarter to come in no better than 30 cents, which is at the low end of guidance. He also believes Costco faces more difficult same store sales comparisons for the balance of fiscal 2003 (August.)
He is cutting his $1.68 fiscal 2003 earnings per share estimate to $1.65, and cutting the $1.82 calendar 2003 estimate to $1.78.