Costco vs. BJ's Wholesale: Which Stock is a Better Buy?

NASDAQ: COST | Costco Wholesale Corporation News, Ratings, and Charts

COST – While most physical retailers have struggled to survive amid the COVID-19 pandemic due to nationwide lockdowns and increasing competition from e-commerce, retail customers’ have shifted to omnichannel fulfillment warehousing companies like Costco Wholesale Corporation (COST) and BJ’s Wholesale Club Holdings (BJ) for essential commodities. Both players have expanded their offerings rapidly and focused on their online operations to support sales during the pandemic and to expand their customer bases. But which of these stocks is a better pick now? Let’s find out.

Costco Wholesale Corporation (COST) and BJ’s Wholesale Club Holdings, Inc. (BJ) are  two of the world’s prominent retail and warehouse companies. They  have largely benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic because shutdown regimes led to panic shopping and the hoarding of essentials.

While neither company is a pure e-commerce platform, they both adapted to the “new normal” quickly, placing  more emphasis on their wider product ranges, unique bulk offerings, digital presence and improved delivery systems. Though vaccine roll outs are encouraging some people to return to brick-and-mortar stores, most consumers are sticking with  the omnichannel fulfillment capabilities of companies like these.

With the new Presidential administration moving ahead with a proposed new stimulus package, a forthcoming potential rise in consumers’ spending capacity should spark pent-up demand for products in the warehouses of both companies.

Both stocks have generated decent returns over the past year. While COST returned 15.1% over this period, BJ gained 98.8%. In terms of year-to-date performance, BJ is a clear winner with 16.6% returns versus COST’s 5.9% loss. But which of these stocks is a better buy now? Let’s find out.

Business Structure and Latest Movements  

COST operates a chain of membership warehouses in the United States and internationally. It offers branded and private-label products in a range of merchandise categories. Its  warehouses are designed to help small- to medium-sized businesses reduce their costs in purchasing for resale and for everyday business use. COST currently operates 803 warehouses that deliver  one of the largest and most exclusive product category selections to be found under a single roof.

After holding off on offering curbside pickup for groceries for years, COST recently launched a pilot program to offer members same-day pickup on grocery and general merchandise items in New Mexico. However, COST recently closed its photo centers at its 800 stores, ending four services that have a decidedly retro vibe. However, the company is still operating its online photo center.

BJ operates warehouse clubs on the East Coast of the United States. The company provides a curated assortment focused on perishable products, general merchandise, gas and other ancillary services to deliver a differentiated shopping experience that is further enhanced by its omnichannel capabilities. BJ currently  operates nearly 221 clubs, that serve  more than six million members.

To remain competitive and attract customers, BJ recently unveiled new features on its app as a part of its rapid transformation into digital solutions. The new app features include easier search and scan functionalities, personalized product  recommendations as well as seamless navigation for discovering deals and products. On January 27, BJ entered a consumer financing partnership with Citizens Financial Group, one of the nation’s oldest and largest financial institutions, to provide customers an affordable way to pay for large purchases. BJ plans to launch Citizens Pay to provide easy financing options for online orders.

Recent Financial Results

COST’s most recent monthly results for January 2021 (the four weeks ended January 31) were better than expected, with comparable sales up 15.7%. Comparable e-commerce sales surged 105.4% year-over-year. COST’s net sales in its fiscal first quarter ended November 22, 2020 were $42.35 billion, rising 17% versus the prior year. Its comparable e-commerce sales for the quarter improved 86.4% year-over-year. And its EPS for the quarter came in at $2.62, compared to the year-ago value of $1.90.

BJ is scheduled to release financial results for its fiscal fourth quarter ended January 31, 2021 on March 4, 2021. BJ’s revenue in the third quarter grew 15.6% year-over-year to $3.73 billion, while its comparable club sales increased 14.1%. Its operating income improved 88% year-over-year to $190.4 million, representing  5.1% of total revenues. Moreover, its EPS more than doubled to $0.88, compared to the year-ago value of $0.40.

Past and Expected Financial Performance

COST’s revenue and EPS have grown at a CAGR of 11.8% and 15.6%, respectively, year-over-year over the past 12 months.

Analysts expect COST’s revenue to increase 11.9% in the current quarter (ending February 28, 2021) and 10.3% in the current year. The company’s EPS is expected to grow 16.2% in the current quarter and 15.4% in the current year. Moreover, its EPS is expected to grow at a rate of 8.6% per annum over the next five years.

In comparison, BJ’s revenue and EPS grew at a CAGR of 13.9% and 77%, respectively, year-over-year over the past 12 months.

Analysts expect BJ’s revenue to increase 13.5% in the current quarter (ended January 31, 2021) and 16.8% in the current year. The company’s EPS is expected to grow 67.5% in the current quarter and 108.2% in the current year. And  its EPS is expected to grow at a rate of 18.5% per annum over the next five years.

BJ has an edge over COST here.

Profitability      

COST’s trailing-12-month revenue is more than 11.5 times BJ’s. But BJ is the more profitable, with a gross profit margin of 19.1% versus COST’s 13.2%.

BJ’s ROE of 651% compares favorably with COST’s 27.8%.

Valuation

In terms of forward p/e, COST is currently trading at 33.60x, 130% more expensive than BJ which is currently trading at 14.60x. In addition,  BJ is less expensive compared to COST in terms of trailing-12-month p/s (0.91x versus 0.40x).

In terms of trailing-12-month price/cash flow also, COST’s 16.67x is 161.3% higher than BJ’s 6.38x.

BJ looks much more affordable compared to COST.

POWR Ratings

Both COST and BJ have an overall rating of B, which equates to a Buy in our proprietary POWR Ratings system. The POWR Ratings are calculated by considering 118 different factors with each factor weighted to an optimal degree.

While BJ has a Value Grade of A, COST is graded a B, consistent with its relatively higher valuation multiples.

Additionally, BJ has a Growth Grade of A, implying its ability to grow its financials at a faster rate than its peers, compared to a C grade for COST.

While COST is ranked #12 of 40 stocks in the A-rated Grocery/Big Box Retailers industry, BJ is ranked #21 in the same industry.

Beyond what I stated above, our POWR Ratings system has also rated both COST and BJ for Momentum, Stability, Sentiment, and Quality. Get all the COST ratings here. Also, click here to see the additional POWR Ratings for BJ.

The Winner

There has been a structural shift to in-home consumption since the onset of the public health crisis. People have been spending less on travel, hotels and dining out, and seem to be redirecting their consumption to  in home and wellness products like cleaning supplies, health and beauty aids. This trend is fueling growth in the consumer staples industry. However, BJ has proved to be the  better investment based on the factors discussed here.

BJ was struggling to stay afloat prior to the pandemic, primarily due to massive debt levels, meager sales growth, and larger industry players. However, as the health crisis ushered an unprecedented demand for groceries and paper products, customers finally acknowledged BJ’s value, scale of operation, and product sizes and selection. BJ seems uniquely positioned to gain market share and thrive based on its strategic investments in digital capabilities, enhancing membership, assortment, marketing and geographic expansion.

Click here to learn about other top-rated Grocery/Big Box Retailers stocks.

The POWR Ratings are calculated by considering 118 different factors with each factor weighted to an optimal degree.

Want More Great Investing Ideas?

“MUST OWN” Growth Stocks for 2021

How to Ride the 2021 Stock Market Bubble

7 Best ETFs for the NEXT Bull Market

5 WINNING Stocks Chart Patterns

 


COST shares were trading at $357.32 per share on Thursday afternoon, down $0.72 (-0.20%). Year-to-date, COST has declined -4.98%, versus a 4.67% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.


About the Author: Sidharath Gupta


Sidharath’s passion for the markets and his love of words guided him to becoming a financial journalist. He began his career as an Equity Analyst, researching stocks and preparing in-depth research reports. Sidharath is currently pursuing the CFA program to deepen his knowledge of financial anlaysis and investment strategies. More...


More Resources for the Stocks in this Article

TickerPOWR RatingIndustry RankRank in Industry
COSTGet RatingGet RatingGet Rating
BJGet RatingGet RatingGet Rating

Most Popular Stories on StockNews.com


:  |  News, Ratings, and Charts

A Case of Stock Market Whiplash

Just when the stock market (SPY) was inches away from a record high at 4,000 it got saddled with 6 days of downward pressure. Why did this happen? Is the pain over? What happens next? Read on below for answers …

:  |  News, Ratings, and Charts

2 Renewable Energy Stocks to Add to Your Watchlist

The clean energy industry is witnessing an unprecedented rally, with governments worldwide investing heavily to reduce their nations’ carbon footprints. Companies including Hubbell (HUBB) and Hallador Energy (HNRG) have been capitalizing on this trend and have delivered solid returns over the past year. Driven by federal subsidies and a rising awareness-driven demand for clean energy products, we think both names should keep climbing in the upcoming months.

:  |  News, Ratings, and Charts

Why I Believe Gold Will Rally, and 3 Stocks That Stand to Benefit the Most

While treasuries and tech stocks bounced back, the rest of market continued its decline Friday. David Cohne sees inflation as a major risk for investors and believes that gold will start a new rally. This should benefit mining stocks such as Gold Corporation (GOLD), Newmont Corp. (NEM), and Kinross Gold Corporation (KGC).

:  |  News, Ratings, and Charts

Cybersecurity Industry in 2021: The Complete Investors Guide

The cybersecurity industry expects to see tremendous growth in the next decade. Therefore investors should consider adding McAfee Corp. (MCFE), Radware Ltd. (RDWR), Qualys Inc. (QLYS), Proofpoint Inc. (PFPT), and Norton Lifelock Inc. (NLOK) to their portfolios.

:  |  News, Ratings, and Charts

Why I Believe Gold Will Rally, and 3 Stocks That Stand to Benefit the Most

While treasuries and tech stocks bounced back, the rest of market continued its decline Friday. David Cohne sees inflation as a major risk for investors and believes that gold will start a new rally. This should benefit mining stocks such as Gold Corporation (GOLD), Newmont Corp. (NEM), and Kinross Gold Corporation (KGC).

Read More Stories

More Costco Wholesale Corporation (COST) News View All

Event/Date Symbol News Detail Start Price End Price Change POWR Rating
Loading, please wait...
View All COST News