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EX-32.1 - EX - 32.1 - COSTCO WHOLESALE CORP /NEWcostex3210k83015.htm
EX-31.1 - EX - 31.1 - COSTCO WHOLESALE CORP /NEWcostex3110k83015.htm
EX-23.1 - EX - 23.1 - COSTCO WHOLESALE CORP /NEWcostex2310k83015.htm
EX-21.1 - EX - 21.1 - COSTCO WHOLESALE CORP /NEWcostex2110k83015.htm
EX-10.1.15 - EX - 10.1.15 - COSTCO WHOLESALE CORP /NEWcostex1011510k83015.htm

UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549 
FORM 10-K
ý
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended August 30, 2015
or
¨
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Commission file number 0-20355
Costco Wholesale Corporation
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Washington
 
91-1223280
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
 
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
999 Lake Drive, Issaquah, WA 98027
(Address of principal executive offices) (Zip Code)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (425) 313-8100
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
 
Name of each exchange on
which registered
Common Stock, $.005 Par Value
 
The NASDAQ Global Select Market
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None 
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. YES ý   NO o
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. YES o   NO ý 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. YES ý   NO o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). YES ý   NO o
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§ 229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  ý
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer ý
  
Accelerated filer o
Non-accelerated filer o (Do not check if a smaller company)
  
Smaller reporting company o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). YES o   NO ý
The aggregate market value of the voting stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of February 15, 2015 was $64,213,793,359.
The number of shares outstanding of the registrant’s common stock as of October 5, 2015 was 437,406,636.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the Company’s Proxy Statement for the Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held on January 29, 2016, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Form 10-K.



COSTCO WHOLESALE CORPORATION
ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED AUGUST 30, 2015
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
 
 
Page
 
 
Item 1.
Item 1A.
Item 1B.
Item 2.
Item 3.
Item 4.
 
 
 
 
 
Item 5.
Item 6.
Item 7.
Item 7A.
Item 8.
Item 9.
Item 9A.
Item 9B.
 
 
 
 
 
Item 10.
Item 11.
Item 12.
Item 13.
Item 14.
 
 
 
 
 
Item 15.
 

2


INFORMATION RELATING TO FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS
Certain statements contained in this Report constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. They include statements that address activities, events, conditions or developments that we expect or anticipate may occur in the future and may relate to such matters as sales growth, increases in comparable store sales, cannibalization of existing locations by new openings, price or fee changes, earnings performance, earnings per share, stock-based compensation expense, warehouse openings and closures, spending on our expansion plans, the effect of adopting certain accounting standards, future financial reporting, financing, margins, return on invested capital, strategic direction, expense controls, membership renewal rates, shopping frequency, litigation, and the demand for our products and services. Forward-looking statements may also be identified by the words “believe,” “project,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “intend,” “strategy,” “future,” “opportunity,” “plan,” “may,” “should,” “will,” “would,” “will be,” “will continue,” “will likely result,” and similar expressions. 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, including, without limitation, the factors set forth in the section titled “Item 1A-Risk Factors”, and other factors noted in the section titled “Item 7-Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and in the consolidated financial statements and related notes in Item 8 of this Report. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and we do not undertake to update them, except as required by law.

PART I
Item 1—Business
Costco Wholesale Corporation and its subsidiaries (Costco or the Company) began operations in 1983 in Seattle, Washington. We are principally engaged in the operation of membership warehouses in the United States (U.S.) and Puerto Rico, Canada, United Kingdom (U.K.), Mexico, Japan, Australia, Spain, and through majority-owned subsidiaries in Taiwan and Korea. Our common stock trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “COST.”
We report on a 52/53-week fiscal year, consisting of thirteen, four-week periods and ending on the Sunday nearest the end of August. The first three quarters consist of three periods each, and the fourth quarter consists of four periods (five weeks in the thirteenth period in a 53-week year). The material seasonal impact in our operations is an increased level of net sales and earnings during the winter holiday season. References to 2015, 2014, and 2013 relate to the 52-week fiscal years ended August 30, 2015, August 31, 2014, and September 1, 2013, respectively.
General
We operate membership warehouses based on the concept that offering our members low prices on a limited selection of nationally branded and private-label products in a wide range of merchandise categories will produce high sales volumes and rapid inventory turnover. When combined with the operating efficiencies achieved by volume purchasing, efficient distribution and reduced handling of merchandise in no-frills, self-service warehouse facilities, these volumes and turnover enable us to operate profitably at significantly lower gross margins than most other retailers. We generally sell inventory before we are required to pay for it, even while taking advantage of early payment discounts when available. To the extent that sales increase and inventory turnover becomes more rapid, more inventory is financed through payment terms provided by suppliers rather than by our working capital.
We buy most of our merchandise directly from manufacturers and route it to a cross-docking consolidation point (depot) or directly to our warehouses. Our depots receive large shipments from manufacturers and quickly reallocate these goods for shipment to our individual warehouses. This process maximizes freight volume and handling efficiencies, eliminating many of the costs associated with traditional multiple-step distribution channels.

3


Item 1—Business (Continued)

Our average warehouse space is approximately 144,000 square feet, however our newer units tend to be slightly larger. Floor plans are designed for economy and efficiency in the use of selling space, the handling of merchandise, and the control of inventory. Because shoppers are attracted principally by the quality of merchandise and the availability of low prices, our warehouses are not elaborate. By strictly controlling the entrances and exits of our warehouses and using a membership format, we have limited inventory losses (shrinkage) to amounts well below those of typical discount retail operations.
Marketing activities for new locations generally include community outreach programs to local businesses in new and existing markets and direct mail to prospective new members. Ongoing promotional programs primarily relate to coupon mailers, The Costco Connection (a magazine we publish for our members), and e-mails to members promoting selected merchandise.
Our warehouses on average operate on a seven-day, 70-hour week. Gasoline operations generally have extended hours. Because the hours of operation are shorter than other retailers, and due to other efficiencies inherent in a warehouse-type operation, labor costs are lower relative to the volume of sales. Merchandise is generally stored on racks above the sales floor and displayed on pallets containing large quantities, thereby reducing labor required. In general, with variations by country, our warehouses accept cash, checks, certain debit and credit cards, or a private label Costco credit card.
Our strategy is to provide our members with a broad range of high quality merchandise at prices consistently lower than they can obtain elsewhere. We seek to limit specific items in each product line to fast-selling models, sizes, and colors. We carry an average of approximately 3,700 active stock keeping units (SKUs) per warehouse in our core warehouse business, significantly less than other broadline retailers. Many consumable products are offered for sale in case, carton, or multiple-pack quantities only.
In keeping with our policy of member satisfaction, we generally accept returns of merchandise. On certain electronic items, we typically have a 90-day return policy and provide, free of charge, technical support services, as well as an extended warranty. Additional third-party warranty coverage is sold on certain electronic item purchases.The following table indicates the approximate percentage of net sales accounted for by major category of items:
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Foods (including dry and institutionally packaged foods)
22
%
 
22
%
 
21
%
Sundries (including snack foods, candy, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, tobacco, and cleaning and institutional supplies)
21
%
 
21
%
 
22
%
Hardlines (including major appliances, electronics, health and beauty aids, hardware, and garden and patio)
16
%
 
16
%
 
16
%
Fresh Foods (including meat, produce, deli, and bakery)
14
%
 
13
%
 
13
%
Softlines (including apparel and small appliances)
11
%
 
11
%
 
11
%
Ancillary and Other (including gas stations, pharmacy, food court, and optical)
16
%
 
17
%
 
17
%
 
Ancillary businesses within or next to our warehouses provide expanded products and services and encourage members to shop more frequently. The following table indicates the number of ancillary businesses in operation at fiscal year-end:
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Food Courts
680

 
657

 
628

Optical Dispensing Centers
662

 
641

 
614

Photo Processing Centers
656

 
649

 
622

Pharmacies
606

 
589

 
565

Hearing-Aid Centers
581

 
549

 
502

Gas Stations
472

 
445

 
414

Number of warehouses
686

 
663

 
634

 

4


Item 1—Business (Continued)

Our online business, which operates websites in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Mexico, provides our members additional products, many not found in our warehouses. These products vary by country and include services such as photo processing, pharmacy, travel, business delivery, and membership services. Net sales for our online business were approximately 3% of our net sales in each of the last three fiscal years.
We have direct buying relationships with many producers of national brand-name merchandise. We do not obtain a significant portion of merchandise from any one supplier. We generally have not experienced difficulty in obtaining sufficient quantities of merchandise, and believe that if one or more of our current sources of supply became unavailable, we would be able to obtain alternative sources without substantial disruption of our business. We also purchase private label merchandise, as long as quality and customer demand are comparable and the value to our members is greater as compared to brand-name items.
Certain financial information for our segments and geographic areas is included in Note 11 to the consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this Report.
Membership
Our format allows our members to utilize their memberships at any of our worldwide Costco warehouse locations. We have two types of members: Gold Star (individual) and Business. Gold Star memberships are available to individuals; Business memberships are limited to businesses, including individuals with a business license, retail sales license or other evidence of business existence. Business members have the ability to add additional cardholders (add-ons). Add-ons are not available for Gold Star members. Our annual fee for these memberships is $55 in our U.S. and Canadian operations and varies by country in our Other International operations. All paid memberships include a free household card.
Our member renewal rate was approximately 91% in the U.S. and Canada, and approximately 88% on a worldwide basis in 2015. The renewal rate is a trailing calculation that captures renewals during the period seven to eighteen months prior to the reporting date. The majority of members renew within the six months following their renewal date.
Our membership was made up of the following (in thousands):
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Gold Star
34,000

 
31,600

 
28,900

Business, including add-ons
10,600

 
10,400

 
10,100

     Total paid members
44,600

 
42,000

 
39,000

Household cards
36,700

 
34,400

 
32,200

Total cardholders
81,300

 
76,400

 
71,200

All Gold Star and Business paid cardholders are eligible to upgrade to an Executive membership in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and U.K., for an additional annual fee of approximately $55. Our Executive members qualify for a 2% reward on qualified purchases (up to a maximum reward of approximately $750 per year), which can be redeemed only at Costco warehouses. This program also offers (except in Mexico) additional savings and benefits on various business and consumer services, such as auto and home insurance, the Costco auto purchase program and check printing services. The services are generally provided by third-parties and vary by country and state. Executive members represented 39% of eligible cardholders at the end of 2015 and 2014 and 38% at the end of 2013. Executive members generally spend more than other members, and the percentage of our net sales attributable to these members continues to increase.

5


Item 1—Business (Continued)

Labor
Our employee count was as follows:
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Full-time employees
117,000

 
112,000

 
103,000

Part-time employees
88,000

 
83,000

 
81,000

Total employees
205,000

 
195,000

 
184,000

Approximately 14,000 employees in a minority of our locations are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. All remaining employees are non-union. We consider our employee relations to be very good.
Competition
Our industry is highly competitive, based on factors such as price, merchandise quality and selection, location and customer service. We compete with warehouse club operations across the U.S. and Mexico (primarily Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club), and nearly every major metropolitan area has multiple club operations. In addition, we compete on a worldwide basis with global, national and regional wholesalers and retailers, including supermarkets, supercenters, department and specialty stores, gasoline stations, and internet retailers. Competitors such as Wal-Mart, Target, Kroger, and Amazon.com are among our significant general merchandise retail competitors. We also compete with operators selling a single category or narrow range of merchandise, such as Lowe’s, Home Depot, Office Depot, PetSmart, Staples, Kohl’s, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, CVS, Walgreens, and Best Buy.
Intellectual Property
We believe that, to varying degrees, our trademarks, trade names, copyrights, proprietary processes, trade secrets, patents, trade dress, domain names and similar intellectual property add significant value to our business and are important to our success. We have invested significantly in the development and protection of our well-recognized brands, including the Costco Wholesale® series of trademarks and our private label brand, Kirkland Signature®. We believe that Kirkland Signature products are premium products offered to our members at prices that are generally lower than those for similar national brand products and that they help lower costs, differentiate our merchandise offerings from other retailers, and generally earn higher margins. We expect to continue to increase the sales penetration of our private label items.
We rely on trademark and copyright laws, trade secret protection, and confidentiality, license and other agreements with our suppliers, employees and others to protect our intellectual property rights. The availability and duration of trademark registrations vary by country; however, trademarks are generally valid and may be renewed indefinitely as long as they are in use and their registrations are properly maintained.
Available Information
Our U.S. internet website is www.costco.com. We make available through the Investor Relations section of that site, free of charge, our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, Proxy Statements and Forms 3, 4 and 5, and any amendments to those reports, as soon as reasonably practicable after filing such materials with, or furnishing such documents to, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The information found on our website is not part of this or any other report filed with or furnished to the SEC. In addition, the public may read and copy any materials we file with the SEC at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, NE, Washington, DC 20549. The public may obtain information on the operation of the Public Reference Room by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330. The SEC also maintains an internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers, such as the Company, that file electronically with the SEC at www.sec.gov.
We have adopted a code of ethics for senior financial officers pursuant to Section 406 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Copies of the code are available free of charge by writing to Secretary, Costco Wholesale Corporation,

6


Item 1—Business (Continued)

999 Lake Drive, Issaquah, WA 98027. If the Company makes any amendments to this code (other than technical, administrative, or non-substantive amendments) or grants any waivers, including implicit waivers, from this code to the CEO, chief financial officer or principal accounting officer and controller, we will disclose (on our website or in a Form 8-K report filed with the SEC) the nature of the amendment or waiver, its effective date, and to whom it applies.
Executive Officers of the Registrant
The executive officers of Costco, their position, and ages are listed below. All executive officers have 25 or more years of service with the Company.
Name
Position
Executive
Officer
Since
Age
W. Craig Jelinek
President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Jelinek has been President and Chief Executive Officer since January 2012 and a director since February 2010. He was President and Chief Operating Officer from February 2010 to December 2011. Prior to that he was Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Merchandising since 2004.
1995
63
Jeffrey H. Brotman
Chairman of the Board. Mr. Brotman is a co-founder of Costco and has been a director since its inception.
1983
73
Richard A. Galanti
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Galanti has been a director since January 1995.
1993
59
Franz E. Lazarus
Executive Vice President, Administration. Mr. Lazarus was Senior Vice President, Administration-Global Operations from 2006 to September 2012.
2012
68
John D. McKay
Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Northern Division. Mr. McKay was Senior Vice President, General Manager, Northwest Region from 2000 to March 2010.
2010
58
Paul G. Moulton
Executive Vice President, Chief Information Officer. Mr. Moulton was Executive Vice President, Real Estate Development from 2001 until March 2010.
2001
64
James P. Murphy
Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, International. Mr. Murphy was Senior Vice President, International, from 2004 to October 2010.
2011
62
Joseph P. Portera
Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Eastern and Canadian Divisions. Mr. Portera has held these positions since 1994, and has been the Chief Diversity Officer since 2010.
1994
63
Timothy L. Rose
Executive Vice President, Ancillary Businesses, Manufacturing, and Business Centers. Mr. Rose was Senior Vice President, Merchandising, Food and Sundries and Private Label from 1995 to December 2012.
2013
63
Douglas W. Schutt
Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Merchandising. Mr. Schutt was Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Northern Division and Midwest Region from 2004 to March 2010.
2004
56
Dennis R. Zook
Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Southwest Division and Mexico.
1993
66

7


Item 1A—Risk Factors

The risks described below could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. These risks are not the only risks that we face. We could also be affected by additional factors that apply to all companies operating in the U.S. and globally, as well as other risks that are not presently known to us or that we currently consider to be immaterial. These Risk Factors should be carefully reviewed in conjunction with Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations in Item 7 and our consolidated financial statements and related notes in Item 8 of this Report.
Business and Operating Risks
We are highly dependent on the financial performance of our U.S. and Canadian operations.
Our financial and operational performance is highly dependent on our U.S. and Canadian operations, which comprised 88% and 85% of net sales and operating income in 2015, respectively. Within the U.S., we are highly dependent on our California operations, which comprised 31% of U.S. net sales in 2015. Our California market, in general, has a larger percentage of higher volume warehouses as compared to our other domestic markets. Any substantial slowing or sustained decline in these operations could materially adversely affect our business and financial results. Declines in financial performance of our U.S. operations, particularly in California, and our Canadian operations could arise from, among other things: declines in actual or estimated comparable warehouse sales growth rates and expectations; negative trends in operating expenses, including increased labor, healthcare and energy costs; failing to meet targets for warehouse openings; cannibalizing existing locations with new warehouses; shifts in sales mix toward lower gross margin products; changes or uncertainties in economic conditions in our markets, including higher levels of unemployment and depressed home values; and failing to consistently provide high quality products and innovative new products to retain our existing member base and attract new members.
We may be unsuccessful implementing our growth strategy, including expanding our business, both in existing markets and in new markets, which could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our growth is dependent, in part, on our ability to acquire property and build or lease new warehouses and regional depots. We compete with other retailers and businesses for suitable locations. Local land use and other regulations restricting the construction and operation of our warehouses and depots, as well as local community actions opposed to the location of our warehouses or depots at specific sites and the adoption of local laws restricting our operations and environmental regulations, may impact our ability to find suitable locations, and increase the cost of sites and of constructing, leasing and operating our warehouses and depots. We also may have difficulty negotiating leases or real estate purchase agreements on acceptable terms. In addition, certain jurisdictions have enacted or proposed laws and regulations that would prevent or restrict the operation or expansion plans of certain large retailers and warehouse clubs, including us, within their jurisdictions. Failure to manage these and other similar factors effectively may affect our ability to timely build or lease new warehouses and depots, which could have a material adverse effect on our future growth and profitability.
We seek to expand our business in existing markets in order to attain a greater overall market share. A new warehouse may draw members away from our existing warehouses and adversely affect comparable warehouse sales performance and member traffic at those existing warehouses.
We intend to continue to open warehouses in new markets. The risks associated with entering a new market include difficulties in attracting members due to a lack of familiarity with us, attracting members of other wholesale club operators, our lack of familiarity with local member preferences, and seasonal differences in the market. In addition, entry into new markets may bring us into competition with new competitors or with existing competitors with a large, established market presence. We cannot ensure that our new warehouses and new online business websites will be profitably deployed and, as a result, our future profitability could be delayed or otherwise materially adversely affected.


8


Item 1A—Risk Factors (Continued)

Our failure to maintain positive membership loyalty and brand recognition could adversely affect our results of operations.
Membership loyalty and growth are essential to our business model. The extent to which we achieve growth in our membership base, increase the penetration of our Executive members, and sustain high renewal rates materially influences our profitability. Damage to our brands or reputation may negatively impact comparable warehouse sales, diminish member trust, and reduce member renewal rates and, accordingly, net sales and membership fee revenue, negatively impacting our results of operations.
In addition, we sell many products under our private label Kirkland Signature brand. Maintaining consistent product quality, competitive pricing, and availability of our Kirkland Signature products for our members is essential to developing and maintaining member loyalty. These products also generally carry higher margins than national brand products carried in our warehouses and represent a growing portion of our overall sales. If the Kirkland Signature brand experiences a loss of member acceptance or confidence, our sales and gross margin results could be adversely affected.
Disruptions in our depot operations could adversely affect sales and member satisfaction.
We depend on the orderly operation of the merchandise receiving and distribution process, primarily through our depots. Although we believe that our receiving and distribution process is efficient, unforeseen disruptions in operations due to fires, hurricanes, earthquakes or other catastrophic events, labor issues or other shipping problems may result in delays in the delivery of merchandise to our warehouses, which could adversely affect sales and the satisfaction of our members.
We rely extensively on computer systems to process transactions, summarize results, and manage our business. Failure to adequately update our systems and disruptions in both our primary and back-up systems could harm our ability to run our business and adversely affect our results of operations.
Given the very high volume of transactions we process each year it is important that we maintain uninterrupted operation of our business-critical computer systems. Our computer systems, including our back-up systems, are subject to damage or interruption from power outages, computer and telecommunications failures, computer viruses, internal or external security breaches, catastrophic events such as fires, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes, and errors by our employees. If our computer systems or our back-up systems are damaged or cease to function properly, we may have to make significant investments to fix or replace them, and we may suffer interruptions in our operations in the interim. Any material interruption in our computer systems could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
We are currently making, and will continue to make, significant technology investments to improve or replace our information processes and systems that are key to managing our business. Failure to monitor and choose the right investments and implement them at the right pace would be harmful. The risk of system disruption is increased when significant system changes are undertaken, although we believe that our change management process can mitigate this risk. Excessive technological change could impact the effectiveness of adoption, and could make it more difficult for us to realize benefits from the technology. Targeting the wrong opportunities, failing to make the best investments, or making an investment commitment significantly above or below our needs could result in the loss of our competitive position and adversely impact our financial condition and results of operations. Additionally, the potential problems and interruptions associated with implementing technology initiatives could disrupt or reduce the efficiency of our operations in the short term. These initiatives might not provide the anticipated benefits or may provide them on a delayed schedule or at a higher cost.
If we do not maintain the privacy and security of member-related and other business information, we could damage our reputation with members, incur substantial additional costs, and become subject to litigation.
We receive, retain, and transmit certain personal information about our members and entrust that information to third party business associates, including cloud service providers that perform activities for us. Our online

9


Item 1A—Risk Factors (Continued)

business, which operates websites in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Mexico, depends upon the secure transmission of encrypted confidential information over public networks, including information permitting cashless payments. A compromise of our security systems or those of our business associates that results in our members' information being obtained by unauthorized persons could adversely affect our reputation with our members and others, as well as our operations, results of operations, financial condition and liquidity, and could result in litigation against us or the imposition of penalties. In addition, a security breach could require that we expend significant additional resources related to the security of information systems and could result in a disruption of our operations.
The use of data by our business and our business associates is regulated at the national and state or local level in all of our operating countries. Privacy and information security laws and regulations change, and compliance with them may result in cost increases due to necessary systems changes and the development of new administrative processes. If we, or those with whom we share information, fail to comply with these laws and regulations or experience a data security breach, our reputation could be damaged, possibly resulting in lost future business, and we could be subjected to additional legal risk as a result of non-compliance.
Our security measures may be undermined due to the actions of outside parties, employee error, malfeasance, or otherwise, and, as a result an unauthorized party may obtain access to our data systems and misappropriate business and personal information. In July 2015, we discovered that the company that hosts our online photo center suffered a security breach that compromised information of users of the company's site, including some Costco members. In response, that company implemented new technology with enhanced security features. Additional data security breaches may occur in the future and may, individually or in the aggregate, have a material adverse effect on our business and operations. Because the techniques used to obtain unauthorized access, disable or degrade service, or sabotage systems change frequently and may not immediately produce signs of intrusion, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques, timely discover or counter them, or implement adequate preventative measures. Any such breach or unauthorized access could result in significant legal and financial exposure, damage to our reputation, and potentially have an adverse effect on our business.
We are subject to payment related risks.
We accept payments using a variety of methods, including cash and checks, a select variety of credit and debit cards, and our proprietary cash card. As we offer new payment options to our members, we may be subject to additional rules, regulations, compliance requirements, and higher fraud losses. For certain payment methods, we pay interchange and other related card acceptance fees, along with additional transaction processing fees which may increase over time and raise our operating costs. We rely on third parties to provide payment transaction processing services, including the processing of credit and debit cards, and our proprietary cash card, and it could temporarily disrupt our business if these companies become unwilling or unable to provide these services to us. We are also subject to payment card association rules and network operating rules, including data security rules, certification requirements and rules governing electronic funds transfers, which could change over time. If we fail to comply with these rules or transaction processing requirements, we may not be able to accept certain payment methods. In addition, if our internal systems are breached or compromised, we may be liable for banks' compromised card re-issuance costs, subject to fines and higher transaction fees and lose our ability to accept credit and/or debit card payments from our members, and our business and operating results could be adversely affected.
We might sell unsafe products, resulting in illness or injury to our members, harm our reputation, and litigation.
If our merchandise offerings, including food and prepared food products for human consumption, drugs, children's products, pet products, and durable goods, do not meet or are perceived not to meet applicable safety standards or our members' expectations regarding safety, we could experience lost sales, increased costs, and legal and reputational losses. The sale of these items involves the risk of health-related illness or injury to our members. Such illnesses or injuries could result from tampering by unauthorized third parties, product contamination or spoilage, including the presence of foreign objects, substances, chemicals, other

10


Item 1A—Risk Factors (Continued)

agents, or residues introduced during the growing, manufacturing, storage, handling and transportation phases, or faulty design. Our vendors are generally contractually required to comply with applicable product safety laws, and we are dependent on them to ensure that the products we buy comply with all safety standards. While we are subject to governmental inspection and regulations and work to comply in all material respects with applicable laws and regulations, we cannot be sure that consumption or use of our products will not cause a health-related illness or injury in the future or that we will not be subject to claims, lawsuits, or government investigations relating to such matters resulting in costly product recalls and other liabilities that could adversely affect our business and results of operations. Even if a product liability claim is unsuccessful or is not fully pursued, the negative publicity surrounding any assertion that our products caused illness or injury could adversely affect our reputation with existing and potential members and our corporate and brand image, and these effects could be long term.
We may not timely identify or effectively respond to consumer trends, which could negatively affect our relationship with our members, the demand for our products and services, and our market share.
It is difficult to consistently and successfully predict the products and services our members will desire. Our success depends, in part, on our ability to identify and respond to trends in demographics and consumer preferences. Failure to timely identify or effectively respond to changing consumer tastes, preferences (including those relating to sustainability of product sources and animal welfare) and spending patterns could negatively affect our relationship with our members, the demand for our products and services and our market share. If we are not successful at predicting our sales trends and adjusting our purchases accordingly, we may have excess inventory, which could result in additional markdowns and reduce our operating performance. This could have an adverse effect on gross margin (net sales less merchandise costs) and operating income.
If we do not successfully develop and maintain a relevant multichannel experience for our members, our results of operations could be adversely impacted.
Multichannel retailing is rapidly evolving and we must keep pace with changing member expectations and new developments by our competitors. Our members, especially younger members, are increasingly using computers, tablets, mobile phones, and other devices to shop. As part of our multichannel strategy, we are making technology investments in our websites and mobile applications. If we are unable to make, improve, or develop relevant member-facing technology in a timely manner, our ability to compete and our results of operations could be adversely affected.
Our inability to attract, train and retain highly qualified employees could adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our success depends on the continued contributions of members of our senior management and other key operations, merchandising and administrative personnel, and the loss of these contributions could have a material adverse effect on our business. We must attract, train and retain a large and growing number of qualified employees, while controlling related labor costs and maintaining our core values. Our ability to control labor and benefit costs is subject to numerous external factors, including regulatory changes, prevailing wage rates, and healthcare and other insurance costs. We compete with other retail and non-retail businesses for these employees and invest significant resources in training and motivating them. There is no assurance that we will be able to attract or retain highly qualified employees in the future, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Market and Other External Risks
We face strong competition from other retailers and warehouse club operators, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The retail business is highly competitive. We compete for customers, employees, sites, products and services and in other important respects with a wide range of local, regional and national wholesalers and retailers, both in the United States and in foreign countries, including other warehouse club operators, supermarkets,

11


Item 1A—Risk Factors (Continued)

supercenters, department and specialty stores, gasoline stations, and internet retailers. Such retailers and warehouse club operators compete in a variety of ways, including merchandise pricing, selection and availability, services, location, convenience, and store hours. The evolution of retailing in online and mobile channels has improved the ability of customers to comparison shop with digital devices, which has enhanced competition. Some competitors may have greater financial resources, better access to merchandise and greater market penetration than we do. Our inability to respond effectively to competitive pressures, changes in the retail markets and member expectations could result in lost market share and negatively affect our financial results.
General economic factors, domestically and internationally, may adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Higher energy and gasoline costs, inflation, levels of unemployment, healthcare costs, consumer debt levels, foreign currency exchange rates, unsettled financial markets, weaknesses in housing and real estate markets, reduced consumer confidence, changes related to government fiscal and tax policies, sovereign debt crises, and other economic factors could adversely affect demand for our products and services or require a change in the mix of products we sell. Prices of certain commodity products, including gasoline and other food products, are historically volatile and are subject to fluctuations arising from changes in domestic and international supply and demand, labor costs, competition, market speculation, government regulations, taxes and periodic delays in delivery. Rapid and significant changes in commodity prices may affect our sales and profit margins. These factors could also increase our merchandise costs and selling, general and administrative expenses, and otherwise adversely affect our operations and financial results. General economic conditions can also be affected by the outbreak of war, acts of terrorism, or other significant national or international events.
Vendors may be unable to supply us with quality merchandise at the right prices in a timely manner or may fail to adhere to our high standards resulting in adverse effects on our business, merchandise inventories, sales, and profit margins.
We depend heavily on our ability to purchase merchandise in sufficient quantities at competitive prices. As these quantities continue to grow, we have no assurances of continued supply, pricing or access to new products, and any vendor could at any time change the terms upon which it sells to us or discontinue selling to us. Member demands may lead to out-of-stock positions of our merchandise leading to loss of sales and profits.
We purchase our merchandise from numerous domestic and foreign manufacturers and importers and have thousands of vendor relationships. Our inability to acquire suitable merchandise on acceptable terms or the loss of key vendors could negatively affect us. We may not be able to develop relationships with new vendors, and products from alternative sources, if any, may be of a lesser quality or more expensive than those from existing vendors. Because of our efforts to adhere to high quality standards for which available supply may be limited, particularly for certain food items, the large volume we demand may not be consistently available.
Our suppliers (and those they depend upon for materials and services) are subject to risks, including labor disputes, union organizing activities, financial liquidity, inclement weather, natural disasters, supply constraints, and general economic and political conditions that could limit their ability to timely provide us with acceptable merchandise. For these or other reasons, one or more of our suppliers might not adhere to our quality control, legal, regulatory or animal welfare standards. These deficiencies may delay or preclude delivery of merchandise to us and might not be identified before we sell such merchandise to our members. This failure could lead to litigation and recalls, which could damage our reputation and our brands, increase our costs, and otherwise adversely impact our business.

Fluctuations in foreign exchange rates may adversely affect our results of operations.

During 2015, our international operations, including Canada, generated 27% and 36% of our net sales and operating income, respectively. Our international operations have accounted for an increasingly larger portion of our warehouses and we plan to continue expanding our international operations. Our operations in

12


Item 1A—Risk Factors (Continued)

countries other than the U.S. are conducted primarily in the local currencies of those countries. Our consolidated financial statements are denominated in U.S. dollars, and to prepare those financial statements we must translate the results of operations of our international operations from local currencies into U.S. dollars using exchange rates for the current period. As a result of such translations, future fluctuations in currency exchange rates over time that are unfavorable to us may adversely affect the financial performance of our Canadian and Other International operating segments and have a corresponding adverse period-over-period effect on our results of operations. As we continue to expand our international operations, our exposure to fluctuations in foreign exchange rates may increase.

We may pay for products we purchase for sale in our warehouses around the world with a currency other than the local currency of the country in which the goods will be sold. Currency fluctuations may increase our cost of goods and may not be passed on to members. Consequently, fluctuations in currency exchange rates may adversely affect our results of operations.
Natural disasters or other catastrophic events could negatively affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, typhoons or earthquakes, particularly in California or in Washington state, where our centralized operating systems and administrative personnel are located, could negatively affect our operations and financial performance. Such events could result in physical damage to one or more of our properties, the temporary closure of one or more warehouses or depots, the temporary lack of an adequate work force in a market, the temporary or long-term disruption in the supply of products from some local or overseas suppliers, the temporary disruption in the transport of goods to or from overseas, delays in the delivery of goods to our warehouses or depots within the countries in which we operate, and the temporary reduction in the availability of products in our warehouses. Public health issues, whether occurring in the U.S. or abroad, could disrupt our operations, disrupt the operations of suppliers or members, or have an adverse impact on consumer spending and confidence levels. These events could also reduce demand for our products or make it difficult or impossible to receive products from suppliers. We may be required to suspend operations in some or all of our locations, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Factors associated with climate change could adversely affect our business.
We use natural gas, diesel fuel, gasoline, and electricity in our distribution and warehouse operations. Increased U.S. and foreign government and agency regulations to limit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions may result in increased compliance costs and legislation or regulation affecting energy inputs that could materially affect our profitability. In addition, climate change could affect our ability to procure needed commodities at costs and in quantities we currently experience. We also sell a substantial amount of gasoline, the demand for which could be impacted by concerns about climate change and which also could face increased regulation. Climate change may be associated with extreme weather conditions, such as more intense hurricanes, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and snow or ice storms, as well as rising sea levels. Extreme weather conditions increase our costs and damage resulting from extreme weather may not be fully insured.
Failure to meet market expectations for our financial performance could adversely affect the market price and volatility of our stock.
We believe that the price of our stock generally reflects high market expectations for our future operating results. Any failure to meet or delay in meeting these expectations, including our comparable warehouse sales growth rates, gross margin, earnings and earnings per share or new warehouse openings could cause the market price of our stock to decline, as could changes in our dividend or stock repurchase policies.

13


Item 1A—Risk Factors (Continued)

Legal and Regulatory Risks
Our international operations subject us to risks associated with the legislative, judicial, accounting, regulatory, political and economic factors specific to the countries or regions in which we operate which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
During 2015, we operated 206 warehouses in eight countries outside of the U.S. and we plan to continue expanding our international operations. Future operating results internationally could be negatively affected by a variety of factors, many similar to those we face in the U.S., certain of which are beyond our control. These factors include political conditions, economic conditions, regulatory constraints, currency regulations, and other matters in any of the countries or regions in which we operate, now or in the future. Other factors that may impact international operations include foreign trade, monetary and fiscal policies and the laws and regulations of the U.S. and foreign governments, agencies and similar organizations, and risks associated with having major facilities located in countries which have been historically less stable than the U.S. Risks inherent in international operations also include, among others, the costs and difficulties of managing international operations, adverse tax consequences, and greater difficulty in enforcing intellectual property rights.
Changes in accounting standards and subjective assumptions, estimates and judgments by management related to complex accounting matters could significantly affect our financial condition and results of operations.
Accounting principles and related accounting pronouncements, implementation guidelines, and interpretations we apply to a wide range of matters that are relevant to our business, including, but not limited to, revenue recognition, merchandise inventories, vendor rebates and other vendor consideration, impairment of long-lived assets, self-insurance liabilities, and income taxes are highly complex and involve many subjective assumptions, estimates and judgments by our management. Changes in these rules or their interpretation or changes in underlying assumptions, estimates or judgments by our management could significantly change our reported or expected financial performance.
Provisions for losses related to self-insured risks are generally based upon independent actuarially determined estimates. The assumptions underlying the ultimate costs of existing claim losses can be highly unpredictable, which can affect the liability recorded for such claims. For example, variability in inflation rates of health care costs inherent in these claims can affect the amounts realized. Similarly, changes in legal trends and interpretations, as well as a change in the nature and method of how claims are settled can impact ultimate costs. Although our estimates of liabilities incurred do not anticipate significant changes in historical trends for these variables, any changes could have a considerable effect upon future claim costs and currently recorded liabilities and could materially impact our consolidated financial statements.
We could be subject to additional income tax liabilities.
We compute our income tax provision based on enacted tax rates in the countries in which we operate. As the tax rates vary among countries, a change in earnings attributable to the various jurisdictions in which we operate could result in an unfavorable change in our overall tax provision. Additionally, changes in the enacted tax rates, adverse outcomes in connection with income tax audits in any jurisdiction, including transfer pricing disputes, or any change in the pronouncements relating to accounting for income taxes could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Significant changes in, or failure to comply with, federal, state, regional, local and international laws and regulations relating to the use, storage, discharge and disposal of hazardous materials, hazardous and non-hazardous wastes and other environmental matters could adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are subject to a wide variety of federal, state, regional, local and international laws and regulations relating to the use, storage, discharge and disposal of hazardous materials, hazardous and non-hazardous wastes and other environmental matters. Any failure to comply with these laws could result in significant costs to satisfy environmental compliance, remediation or compensatory requirements, or the imposition of

14


Item 1A—Risk Factors (Continued)

severe penalties or restrictions on operations by governmental agencies or courts that could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are involved in a number of legal proceedings and audits and some of these outcomes could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our business requires compliance with many laws and regulations. Failure to achieve compliance could subject us to lawsuits and other proceedings, and lead to damage awards, fines, penalties, and remediation costs. We are, or may become involved, in a number of legal proceedings and audits including grand jury investigations, government and agency investigations, and consumer, employment, tort, unclaimed property laws, and other litigation (see discussion of Legal Proceedings in Note 10 to the consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this Report). We cannot predict with certainty the outcomes of these legal proceedings and other contingencies, including environmental remediation and other proceedings commenced by governmental authorities. The outcome of some of these legal proceedings, audits, unclaimed property laws, and other contingencies could require us to take, or refrain from taking, actions which could negatively affect our operations or could require us to pay substantial amounts of money adversely affecting our financial condition and results of operations. Additionally, defending against these lawsuits and proceedings may involve significant expense and diversion of management's attention and resources.
Item 1B—Unresolved Staff Comments
None.
Item 2—Properties
Warehouse Properties
At August 30, 2015 we operated 686 membership warehouses:
NUMBER OF WAREHOUSES 
 
Own Land
and Building
 
Lease Land
and/or
Building(1)
 
Total
United States and Puerto Rico
388

 
92

 
480

Canada
78

 
11

 
89

Mexico
36

 

 
36

United Kingdom
21

 
6

 
27

Japan
8

 
15

 
23

Korea
5

 
7

 
12

Taiwan

 
11

 
11

Australia
5

 
2

 
7

Spain
1

 

 
1

Total
542

 
144

 
686

_______________
(1)
95 of the 144 leases are land-leases only, where Costco owns the building.

15


Item 2—Properties (Continued)

The following schedule shows warehouse openings for the past five fiscal years and expected warehouse openings through December 31, 2015:
Openings by Fiscal Year(1)
United States
 
Canada
 
Other
International
 
Total
 
Total Warehouses
in Operation
2011 and prior
429

 
82

 
81

 
592

 
592

2012
10

 

 
6

 
16

 
608

2013
12

 
3

 
11

 
26

 
634

2014
17

 
3

 
9

 
29

 
663

2015
12

 
1

 
10

 
23

 
686

2016 (expected through 12/31/2015)
7

 
1

 
3

 
11

 
697

Total
487

 
90

 
120

 
697

 
 
_______________
(1)
Net of closings and relocations.
At the end of 2015, our warehouses contained approximately 98.7 million square feet of operating floor space: 69.9 million in the U.S.; 12.3 million in Canada; and 16.5 million in Other International locations. Additionally, we operate regional depots for the consolidation and distribution of most merchandise shipments to the warehouses, and various processing, packaging, and other facilities to support ancillary and other businesses, which includes our online business. We operate 23 depots consisting of approximately 9.3 million square feet. Our executive offices are located in Issaquah, Washington, and we operate 18 regional offices in the U.S., Canada and Other International locations.
Item 3—Legal Proceedings
See discussion of Legal Proceedings in Note 10 to the consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this Report.
Item 4—Mine Safety Disclosures
Not applicable.

16


PART II
Item 5—Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Market Information and Dividend Policy
Our common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “COST.” On October 5, 2015, we had 8,527 stockholders of record. The following table shows the quarterly high and low closing sale prices as reported by NASDAQ for each quarter during the last two fiscal years and the quarterly cash dividend declared per share of our common stock.
 
Price Range
 
Cash
Dividends
Declared
 
 
High
 
Low
 
2015:
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fourth Quarter
$
146.89

 
$
132.71

 
$
0.400

 
Third Quarter
153.14

 
143.05

 
0.400

 
Second Quarter
155.92

 
137.31

 
5.355

(1) 
First Quarter
140.01

 
121.35

 
0.355

 
2014:
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fourth Quarter
121.62

 
113.87

 
0.355

 
Third Quarter
116.80

 
110.65

 
0.355

 
Second Quarter
125.43

 
110.18

 
0.310

 
First Quarter
125.21

 
111.50

 
0.310

 
_______________
(1)
The amount shown includes a special cash dividend of $5.00 per share.
Payment of future dividends is subject to declaration by the Board of Directors. Factors considered in determining dividends are our profitability and expected capital needs. Subject to these qualifications, we presently expect to continue to pay dividends on a quarterly basis.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
The following table sets forth information on our common stock repurchase program activity for the 16-week fourth quarter of fiscal 2015 (dollars in millions, except per share data):
Period
 
 
Total Number of shares Purchased
 
Average Price Paid per Share
 
Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Program(1)
 
Maximum Dollar Value of Shares that May Yet be Purchased Under the Program
May 11, 2015—June 7, 2015
 
420,000

 
$143.32
 
420,000

 
$3,898
June 8, 2015—July 5, 2015
 
508,000

 
138.39

 
508,000

 
$3,828
July 6, 2015—August 2, 2015
 
435,000

 
143.08

 
435,000

 
$3,766
August 3, 2015—August 30, 2015
 
473,000

 
142.51

 
473,000

 
$3,699
     Total fourth quarter
 
1,836,000

 
$141.69
 
1,836,000

 
 
_______________
(1)
Our stock repurchase program is conducted under a $4,000 authorization approved by our Board of Directors in April 2015, which expires in April 2019.

17


Item 6—Selected Financial Data
The following table sets forth information concerning our consolidated financial condition, operating results, and key operating metrics. This information should be read in conjunction with Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, included in Item 7 of this Report, and our consolidated financial statements and notes thereto, included in Item 8 of this Report.
SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
(dollars in millions, except per share data)
 
Aug. 30, 2015
 
Aug. 31, 2014
 
Sept. 1, 2013
 
Sept. 2, 2012
 
Aug. 28, 2011
As of and for the year ended
(52 weeks)
 
(52 weeks)
 
(52 weeks)
 
(53 weeks)
 
(52 weeks)
RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Net sales
$
113,666

 
$
110,212

 
$
102,870

 
$
97,062

 
$
87,048

Membership fees
2,533

 
2,428

 
2,286

 
2,075

 
1,867

Gross margin(1) as a percentage of net sales
11.09
 %
 
10.66
%
 
10.62
%
 
10.55
%
 
10.69
%
Selling, general and administrative expenses as a percentage of net sales
10.07
 %
 
9.89
%
 
9.82
%
 
9.81
%
 
9.98
%
Operating income
$
3,624

 
$
3,220

 
$
3,053

 
$
2,759

 
$
2,439

Net income attributable to Costco(2)
2,377

 
2,058

 
2,039

 
1,709

 
1,462

Net income per diluted common share attributable to Costco
5.37

 
4.65

 
4.63

 
3.89

 
3.30

Cash dividends declared per common share
6.51

 
1.33

 
8.17

 
1.03

 
0.89

Increase in comparable warehouse sales(3)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
United States
3
 %
 
5
%
 
6
%
 
7
%
 
7
%
Canada
(5
)%
 
2
%
 
9
%
 
8
%
 
14
%
Other International
(3
)%
 
3
%
 
1
%
 
3
%
 
20
%
Total Company
1
 %
 
4
%
 
6
%
 
7
%
 
10
%
Increase in Total Company comparable warehouse sales excluding the impact of changes in foreign currency and gasoline prices
7
 %
 
6
%
 
6
%
 
6
%
 
6
%
BALANCE SHEET DATA
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Net property and equipment
$
15,401

 
$
14,830

 
$
13,881

 
$
12,961

 
$
12,432

Total assets
33,440

 
33,024

 
30,283

 
27,140

 
26,761

Long-term debt, excluding current portion
4,864

 
5,093

 
4,998

 
1,381

 
1,253

Costco stockholders’ equity
$
10,617

 
$
12,303

 
$
10,833

 
$
12,361

 
$
12,002

WAREHOUSE INFORMATION
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Warehouses in Operation
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Beginning of year
663

 
634

 
608

 
592

 
572

Opened(4)
26

 
30

 
26

 
17

 
24

Closed(4)
(3
)
 
(1
)
 
0

 
(1
)
 
(4
)
End of year
686

 
663

 
634

 
608

 
592

MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total paid members (000's)
44,600

 
42,000

 
39,000

 
36,900

 
35,300

_______________
(1)
Net sales less merchandise costs.
(2)
Includes 50% of the results of Costco Mexico's operations in fiscal 2011, and in 2012 prior to the July acquisition of our former joint venture partner's 50% equity interest. The remainder of fiscal 2012 and thereafter include 100% of Costco Mexico's results of operations.
(3)
Includes net sales from warehouses and websites operating for more than one year. For fiscal 2013 and 2012, the prior year includes the comparable 52 and 53 weeks, respectively.
(4)
Includes warehouse relocations and closures.

18


Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (amounts in millions, except per share, share, membership fee, and warehouse count data)
OVERVIEW
We believe that the most important driver of our profitability is sales growth, particularly comparable warehouse sales (comparable sales) growth. We define comparable sales as sales from warehouses open for more than one year, including remodels, relocations and expansions, as well as online sales related to websites operating for more than one year. Comparable sales growth is achieved through increasing shopping frequency from new and existing members and the amount they spend on each visit (average ticket). Sales comparisons can also be particularly influenced by certain factors that are beyond our control: fluctuations in currency exchange rates (with respect to the consolidation of the results of our international operations); and changes in the cost of gasoline and associated competitive conditions (primarily impacting our U.S. and Canadian operations). The higher our comparable sales exclusive of these items, the more we can leverage certain of our selling, general and administrative expenses, reducing them as a percentage of sales and enhancing profitability. Generating comparable sales growth is foremost a question of making available to our members the right merchandise at the right prices, a skill that we believe we have repeatedly demonstrated over the long term. Another substantial factor in sales growth is the health of the economies in which we do business, especially the United States. Sales growth and gross margins are also impacted by our competition, which is vigorous and widespread, across a wide range of global, national and regional wholesalers and retailers. While we cannot control or reliably predict general economic health or changes in competition, we believe that we have been successful historically in adapting our business to these changes, such as through adjustments to our pricing and to our merchandise mix, including increasing the penetration of our private label items.
Our philosophy is to provide our members with quality goods and services at the most competitive prices. We do not focus in the short term on maximizing prices charged, but instead seek to maintain what we believe is a perception among our members of our “pricing authority” – consistently providing the most competitive values. Our investments in merchandise pricing can, from time to time, include reducing prices on merchandise to drive sales or meet competition and holding prices steady despite cost increases instead of passing the increases on to our members, all negatively impacting near-term gross margin as a percentage of net sales (gross margin percentage). We believe that our gasoline business draws members but it generally has a significantly lower gross margin percentage relative to our non-gasoline business. A higher penetration of gasoline sales will generally lower our gross margin percentage. Rapidly changing gasoline prices may significantly impact our near-term net sales growth. Generally, rising gasoline prices benefit net sales growth which, given the higher sales base, negatively impacts our gross margin percentage but decreases our selling, general and administrative expenses as a percentage of net sales. A decline in gasoline prices has the inverse effect.
We also achieve sales growth by opening new warehouses. As our warehouse base grows, available and desirable potential sites become more difficult to secure, and square footage growth becomes a comparatively less substantial component of growth. The negative aspects of such growth, however, including lower initial operating profitability relative to existing warehouses and cannibalization of sales at existing warehouses when openings occur in existing markets, are increasingly less significant relative to the results of our total operations. Our rate of square footage growth is higher in foreign markets, due to the smaller base in those markets, and we expect that to continue. Our online business growth both domestically and internationally has also increased our sales.
Our membership format is an integral part of our business model and has a significant effect on our profitability. This format is designed to reinforce member loyalty and provide continuing fee revenue. The extent to which we achieve growth in our membership base, increase penetration of our Executive members, and sustain high renewal rates, materially influences our profitability.
Our financial performance depends heavily on our ability to control costs. While we believe that we have achieved successes in this area historically, some significant costs are partially outside our control, most particularly health care and utility expenses. With respect to expenses relating to the compensation of our

19


Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (amounts in millions, except per share, share, membership fee, and warehouse count data) (Continued)


employees, our philosophy is not to seek to minimize the wages and benefits that they earn. Rather, we believe that achieving our longer-term objectives of reducing employee turnover and enhancing employee satisfaction requires maintaining compensation levels that are better than the industry average for much of our workforce. This may cause us, for example, to absorb costs that other employers might seek to pass through to their workforces. Because our business is operated on very low margins, modest changes in various items in the income statement, particularly gross margin and selling, general and administrative expenses, can have substantial impacts on net income.
Our operating model is generally the same across our U.S., Canada, and Other International operating segments (see Note 11 to the consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this Report). Certain countries in the Other International segment have relatively higher rates of square footage growth, lower wages and benefit costs as a percentage of country sales, and/or less or no direct membership warehouse competition. Additionally, we operate our lower-margin gasoline business in the U.S., Canada, Australia, U.K., and Japan.
In discussions of our consolidated operating results, we refer to the impact of changes in foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar, which are references to the differences between the foreign-exchange rates we use to convert the financial results of our international operations from local currencies into U.S. dollars for financial reporting purposes. This impact of foreign-exchange rate changes is calculated based on the difference between the current period's currency exchange rates and the comparable prior-year period's currency exchange rates. We also refer to the impact of changes in gasoline prices on our net sales. This impact is calculated based on the difference between the current period's average gasoline price per gallon sold and the comparable prior-year period's average gasoline price per gallon sold.
Our fiscal year ends on the Sunday closest to August 31. Fiscal years 2015, 2014 and 2013 were 52-week fiscal years ending on August 30, 2015, August 31, 2014 and September 1, 2013, respectively. Certain percentages presented are calculated using actual results prior to rounding. Unless otherwise noted, references to net income relate to net income attributable to Costco.
Highlights for fiscal year 2015 included:
We opened 23 net new warehouses in 2015, 12 in the U.S., one in Canada, and 10 in our Other International segment, compared to 29 net new warehouses in 2014;
Net sales increased 3% to $113,666, driven by sales at new warehouses opened in 2014 and 2015, and a 1% increase in comparable sales. Net and comparable sales results were negatively impacted by changes in all foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar and decreases in the price of gasoline;
Membership fee revenue increased 4% to $2,533, primarily due to membership sign-ups at existing and new warehouses and executive membership upgrades, partially offset by the negative impact of changes in all foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar;
Gross margin as a percentage of net sales increased 43 basis points, primarily from the impact of gasoline price deflation on net sales as well as higher gross margins in our gasoline business;
Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses as a percentage of net sales increased 18 basis points;
Net income increased to $2,377, or $5.37 per diluted share compared to $2,058, or $4.65 per diluted share in 2014. The current year results were positively impacted by a $57 tax benefit, or $0.13 per diluted share, in connection with the special cash dividend paid to the Company's 401(k) Plan participants;
Changes in foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar adversely impacted diluted earnings per share by $0.28, primarily due to changes in the Canadian dollar;
In February 2015, we issued $1,000 in aggregate principal amount of Senior Notes, which partially funded a special cash dividend of $5.00 per share paid in February 2015 (approximately $2,201); and
The Board of Directors approved an increase in the quarterly cash dividend from $0.355 to $0.40 per share in April 2015.

20


Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (amounts in millions, except per share, share, membership fee, and warehouse count data) (Continued)


RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
Net Sales
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Net Sales
$
113,666

 
$
110,212

 
$
102,870

Increases in net sales:
 
 
 
 
 
U.S.
5
 %
 
7
%
 
5
%
Canada
(3
)%
 
5
%
 
9
%
Other International
2
 %
 
14
%
 
7
%
Total Company
3
 %
 
7
%
 
6
%
Increases in comparable warehouse sales:
 
 
 
 
 
U.S.
3
 %
 
5
%
 
6
%
Canada
(5
)%
 
2
%
 
9
%
Other International
(3
)%
 
3
%
 
1
%
Total Company
1
 %
 
4
%
 
6
%
Increases in comparable warehouse sales excluding the impact of changes in foreign currency and gasoline prices:
 
 
 
 
 
U.S.
6
 %
 
5
%
 
6
%
Canada
8
 %
 
9
%
 
9
%
Other International
6
 %
 
4
%
 
2
%
Total Company
7
 %
 
6
%
 
6
%
2015 vs. 2014
Net Sales
Net sales increased $3,454 or 3% during 2015. This was attributable to sales at new warehouses opened in 2014 and 2015 and a 1% increase in comparable warehouse sales. Changes in foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar negatively impacted net sales by approximately $3,344, or 303 basis points, compared to 2014. The negative impact was attributable to all foreign countries in which we operate, predominantly Canada of $2,027, Mexico of $385, and Japan of $368. Changes in gasoline prices negatively impacted net sales by approximately $2,902, or 263 basis points, due to a 22% decrease in the average sales price per gallon.
Comparable Sales
Comparable sales increased 1% during 2015 and was positively impacted by an increase in shopping frequency partially offset by a decrease in the average ticket. The average ticket and comparable sales results were negatively impacted by changes in foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar and a decrease in gasoline prices. The increase in comparable sales also includes the negative impact of cannibalization (established warehouses losing sales to our newly opened locations).

21


Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (amounts in millions, except per share, share, membership fee, and warehouse count data) (Continued)


2014 vs. 2013
Net Sales
Net sales increased $7,342 or 7% during 2014. This was attributable to a 4% increase in comparable warehouse sales, and sales at warehouses opened in 2013 and 2014. Changes in foreign currencies negatively impacted net sales by approximately $1,336, or 130 basis points, compared to 2013. The negative impact was primarily due to the Canadian dollar of approximately $1,140 and the Japanese yen of approximately $311. Changes in gasoline prices negatively impacted net sales by approximately $364, or 35 basis points, due to a 3% decrease in the average sales price per gallon.
Comparable Sales
Comparable sales increased 4% during 2014 and were primarily impacted by an increase in shopping frequency. Changes in foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar and gasoline prices negatively impacted comparable sales results, including the average ticket during 2014. The increase in comparable sales also includes the negative impact of cannibalization (established warehouses losing sales to our newly opened locations), primarily in our Other International operations.
Membership Fees
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Membership fees
$
2,533

 
$
2,428

 
$
2,286

Membership fees increase
4
%
 
6
%
 
10
%
Membership fees as a percentage of net sales
2.23
%
 
2.20
%
 
2.22
%
2015 vs. 2014
Membership fees increased 4% in 2015. This increase was primarily due to membership sign-ups at existing and new warehouses and increased number of upgrades to our higher-fee Executive Membership program. These increases were partially offset by changes in foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar, which negatively impacted membership fees by approximately $76 in 2015. Our member renewal rates are currently 91% in the U.S. and Canada and 88% worldwide.
2014 vs. 2013
Membership fees increased 6% in 2014. This increase was primarily due to membership sign-ups at existing and new warehouses and increased number of upgrades to our higher-fee Executive Membership program. The raising of our membership fees in fiscal 2012 positively impacted 2014 and 2013 by $9 and $119, respectively. These increases were partially offset by changes in foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar, which negatively impacted membership fees by approximately $35 in 2014.

22


Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (amounts in millions, except per share, share, membership fee, and warehouse count data) (Continued)


Gross Margin
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Net sales
$
113,666

 
$
110,212

 
$
102,870

Less merchandise costs
101,065

 
98,458

 
91,948

Gross margin
$
12,601

 
$
11,754

 
$
10,922

Gross margin as a percentage of net sales
11.09
%
 
10.66
%
 
10.62
%
2015 vs. 2014
During 2015, the gross margin of our combined core merchandise categories (food and sundries, hardlines, softlines and fresh foods), when expressed as a percentage of core merchandise sales (rather than total net sales), increased five basis points, primarily due to increases in softlines and food and sundries, partially offset by a decrease in fresh foods. This measure eliminates the impact of changes in sales penetration and gross margins from our warehouse ancillary and other businesses.
Our gross margin percentage increased 43 basis points compared to 2014 and most of the improvement was derived from the impact of gasoline price deflation on net sales. Excluding this impact, gross margin as a percentage of adjusted net sales was 10.81%, an increase of 15 basis points from the prior year. This increase is predominantly due to: an increase in our warehouse ancillary and other business gross margin of 23 basis points, due primarily to our gasoline business; partially offset by a negative contribution from core merchandise categories of 12 basis points, as a result of a decrease in their sales penetration. A LIFO benefit in 2015 compared to a charge in 2014 positively contributed five basis points. The LIFO benefit resulted largely from lower costs for gasoline. Changes in foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar negatively impacted gross margin by approximately $359 in 2015.
Gross margin on a segment basis, when expressed as a percentage of the segment's own sales (segment gross margin percentage), increased in our U.S. operations, primarily due to our gasoline business, food and sundries merchandise category and the LIFO benefit discussed above. The segment gross margin percentage in our Canadian operations decreased, primarily in hardlines and softlines. The segment gross margin percentage in our Other International operations decreased, primarily in food and sundries.
2014 vs. 2013
During 2014, the gross margin of our combined core merchandise categories, when expressed as a percentage of core merchandise sales, increased seven basis points, primarily due to increases in our softlines and food and sundries categories, partially offset by a decrease in hardlines. Fresh foods also had a positive impact as a result of higher sales penetration.
Our gross margin percentage increased four basis points compared to 2013 and most of the improvement was derived from the impact of gasoline price deflation on net sales. Excluding this impact, gross margin as a percentage of adjusted net sales was 10.63%, an increase of one basis point from the prior year. This increase is predominantly due to warehouse ancillary and other business gross margin of six basis points, which was largely offset by five basis points due to a LIFO charge in 2014 compared to a benefit in 2013. The LIFO charge resulted from higher costs for our merchandise inventories, primarily our foods and fresh foods categories. Changes in foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar negatively impacted gross margin by approximately $151 in 2014.
Gross margin on a segment basis, when expressed as a percentage of the segment's own sales, increased in our U.S. operations, primarily due to our softlines and food and sundries categories, partially offset by a decrease in hardlines and the LIFO charge discussed above. The segment gross margin percentage in our Canadian operations decreased, primarily due to decreases in hardlines and food and sundries, partially offset by an increase in fresh foods. The segment gross margin percentage in our Other International operations increased, primarily due to fresh foods.

23


Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (amounts in millions, except per share, share, membership fee, and warehouse count data) (Continued)


Selling, General and Administrative Expenses
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
SG&A expenses
$
11,445

 
$
10,899

 
$
10,104

SG&A expenses as a percentage of net sales
10.07
%
 
9.89
%
 
9.82
%
2015 vs. 2014
SG&A expenses as a percentage of net sales increased 18 basis points, mostly due to the negative impact of gasoline price deflation on net sales. Excluding this impact, SG&A expenses as a percentage of adjusted net sales were 9.82%, an improvement of seven basis points. This was due to lower warehouse operating costs of 16 basis points, primarily from improvements in payroll expenses in our core business as a result of leveraging increased sales. This improvement was partially offset by higher central operating costs of five basis points, predominantly due to increased depreciation and service contract costs associated with our information systems modernization projects that were placed into service during the year, primarily incurred by our U.S. operations. Our investment in modernizing our information systems is ongoing. Higher stock compensation expense also negatively impacted our SG&A expenses by four basis points, due to an appreciation in the trading price of our stock at the time of grant. Changes in foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar decreased our SG&A expenses by approximately $282 in 2015.
2014 vs. 2013
SG&A expenses as a percentage of net sales increased seven basis points. Excluding the effect of gasoline price deflation on net sales, SG&A expenses as a percentage of adjusted net sales were 9.86%, an increase of four basis points. This increase was largely due to an increase in central operating costs of three basis points primarily due to continued investment in modernizing our information systems, primarily incurred by our U.S. operations. Stock compensation expense was also higher by two basis points due to accelerated vesting for long service and appreciation in the trading price of our stock at the time of grant, despite a 14% reduction in the average number of restricted stock units (RSUs) granted to each participant. Warehouse operating costs were lower by one basis point, primarily resulting from improvements in payroll in our Canadian operations as a result of leveraging increased sales, partially offset by increases in employee benefit costs, primarily health care, in our U.S. operations. Changes in foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar decreased our SG&A expenses by $119 in 2014.
Preopening Expenses
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Preopening expenses
$
65

 
$
63

 
$
51

Warehouse openings, including relocations
 
 
 
 
 
United States (1) 
14

 
17

 
12

Canada
1

 
3

 
3

Other International(2)
11

 
10

 
11

Total warehouse openings, including relocations
26

 
30

 
26

 _______________
(1)
Includes one relocation and the conversion of an existing warehouse to a business center in 2015.
(2)
Includes one relocation in 2015.
Preopening expenses include costs for startup operations related to new warehouses, development in new international markets, and expansions at existing warehouses. Preopening expenses vary due to the number of warehouse openings, the timing of the opening relative to our year-end, whether the warehouse is owned or leased, and whether the opening is in an existing, new, or international market.

24


Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (amounts in millions, except per share, share, membership fee, and warehouse count data) (Continued)


Interest Expense
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Interest expense
$
124

 
$
113

 
$
99

Interest expense in 2015 primarily relates to $1,100 of 5.5% Senior Notes issued in fiscal 2007, $3,500 of Senior Notes issued in December 2012, and $1,000 of Senior Notes issued in February 2015 (described in further detail under the heading “Cash Flows from Financing Activities” and in Note 4 to the consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this Report).
Interest Income and Other, Net
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Interest income
$
50

 
$
52

 
$
44

Foreign-currency transaction gains, net
47

 
26

 
39

Other, net
7

 
12

 
14

Interest income and other, net
$
104

 
$
90

 
$
97

2015 vs. 2014
The increase in net foreign-currency transaction gains was primarily attributable to favorable mark-to-market adjustments for forward foreign exchange contracts compared to the prior year. See Derivatives and Foreign Currency sections in Note 1 to the consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this Report. The increase was also attributable to net gains on the revaluation or settlement of monetary assets and liabilities during the year.
2014 vs. 2013
The increase in interest income in 2014 was primarily driven by higher average cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments balances, primarily in our U.S. operations. The decrease in net foreign-currency transaction gains was primarily attributable to the revaluation or settlement of monetary assets and monetary liabilities during the year, primarily our Japanese subsidiary's U.S. dollar-denominated payables.
Provision for Income Taxes
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Provision for income taxes
$
1,195

 
$
1,109

 
$
990

Effective tax rate
33.2
%
 
34.7
%
 
32.4
%
Our provision for income taxes in 2015 and 2013 were favorably impacted by net tax benefits of $68 and $77, respectively, primarily due to tax benefits recorded in connection with special cash dividends paid to employees through our 401(K) Retirement Plan. Dividends paid on these shares are deductible for U.S. income tax purposes. There was no similar special cash dividend in 2014.

25


Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (amounts in millions, except per share, share, membership fee, and warehouse count data) (Continued)


LIQUIDITY AND CAPITAL RESOURCES
The following table summarizes our significant sources and uses of cash and cash equivalents:
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Net cash provided by operating activities
$
4,285

 
$
3,984

 
$
3,437

Net cash used in investing activities
(2,480
)
 
(2,093
)
 
(2,251
)
Net cash (used in) provided by financing activities
(2,324
)
 
(786
)
 
44

Our primary sources of liquidity are cash flows generated from warehouse operations, cash and cash equivalents and short-term investment balances. Cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments were $6,419 and $7,315 at the end of 2015 and 2014, respectively. Of these balances, approximately $1,243 and $1,383 at the end of 2015 and 2014, respectively, represented debit and credit card receivables, primarily related to sales in the last week of our fiscal year. Cash and cash equivalents were negatively impacted by changes in exchange rates by $418 and $11, respectively.
We have not provided for U.S. deferred taxes on cumulative undistributed earnings of certain non-U.S. consolidated subsidiaries because our subsidiaries have invested or will invest the undistributed earnings indefinitely, or the earnings if repatriated would not result in a deferred tax liability. This includes the remaining undistributed earnings of our Canadian operations that management maintains are indefinitely reinvested, or could be repatriated without resulting in a deferred tax liability. Deferred taxes are recorded for earnings of our foreign operations when we determine that such earnings are no longer indefinitely reinvested.
During 2015, we repatriated a portion of the earnings in our Canadian operations that in 2014 were no longer considered indefinitely reinvested. In the fourth quarter of 2015, we changed our position regarding an additional portion of the undistributed earnings of our Canadian operations, which are no longer considered indefinitely reinvested. Current exchange rates compared to historical rates when these earnings were generated resulted in an immaterial U.S. tax benefit, which was recorded at the end of 2015.
Management believes that our cash position and operating cash flows will be sufficient to meet our liquidity and capital requirements for the foreseeable future. We believe that our U.S. current and projected asset position is sufficient to meet our U.S. liquidity requirements and have no current plans to repatriate for use in the U.S. cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments held by these non-U.S. consolidated subsidiaries whose earnings are considered indefinitely reinvested. Cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments held at these subsidiaries and considered to be indefinitely reinvested totaled $1,196 at August 30, 2015.
Cash Flows from Operating Activities
Net cash provided by operating activities totaled $4,285 in 2015 compared to $3,984 in 2014. Our cash flow provided by operations is primarily derived from net sales and membership fees. Our cash flow used in operations generally consists of payments to our merchandise vendors, warehouse operating costs including payroll and employee benefits, credit card processing fees, and utilities. Cash used in operations also includes payments for income taxes. The increase in net cash provided by operating activities for 2015 when compared to 2014 was primarily due to stronger earnings.
Cash Flows from Investing Activities
Net cash used in investing activities totaled $2,480 in 2015 compared to $2,093 in 2014. Our cash flow used in investing activities is primarily related to funding our warehouse expansion and remodeling activities. Net cash flows from investing activities also includes purchases and maturities of short-term investments.
Capital Expenditure Plans
We opened 23 new warehouses, relocated two warehouses, and converted an existing warehouse to a business center in 2015 and plan to open up to 32 new warehouses in 2016 and relocate up to five

26


Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (amounts in millions, except per share, share, membership fee, and warehouse count data) (Continued)


warehouses. Our primary requirement for capital is acquiring land, buildings, and equipment for new and remodeled warehouses. To a lesser extent, capital is required for initial warehouse operations, the modernization of our information systems, and working capital. In 2015 we spent $2,393 on capital expenditures, and it is our current intention to spend approximately $2,800 to $3,000 during fiscal 2016. These expenditures are expected to be financed with cash from operations, existing cash and cash equivalents, and short-term investments. There can be no assurance that current expectations will be realized and plans are subject to change upon further review of our capital expenditure needs.
Cash Flows from Financing Activities
Net cash used in financing activities totaled $2,324 in 2015 compared to $786 in 2014. The primary uses of cash in 2015 were dividend payments of $2,865, which includes a $5.00 per share special cash dividend, repurchases of common stock, and payment of withholding taxes on stock-based awards. Net cash used in financing activities was partially offset by the issuance of $1,000 in Senior Notes.
In February 2015, we issued $1,000 in aggregate principal amount of Senior Notes as follows: $500 of 1.75% Senior Notes due February 15, 2020, and $500 of 2.25% Senior Notes due February 15, 2022. The proceeds were used to pay a portion of the special cash dividend on February 27, 2015.
Stock Repurchase Programs
In April 2015, our Board of Directors authorized a new share repurchase program in the amount of $4,000, which expires in April 2019. This authorization revoked previously authorized but unused amounts, totaling $2,528. During 2015 and 2014, we repurchased 3,456,000 and 2,915,000 shares of common stock, at an average price of $142.87 and $114.45, totaling approximately $494 and $334, respectively. The remaining amount available to be purchased under our approved plan was $3,699 at the end of 2015. Purchases are made from time-to-time, as conditions warrant, in the open market or in block purchases and pursuant to plans under SEC Rule 10b5-1. Repurchased shares are retired, in accordance with the Washington Business Corporation Act.
Dividends
Our cash dividends paid in 2015 totaled $6.51 per share, as compared to $1.33 per share in 2014. In April 2015, our Board of Directors increased our quarterly cash dividend from $0.355 to $0.40 per share. Additionally, in 2015, our Board of Directors declared and paid a special cash dividend of $5.00 per share, totaling approximately $2,201.
Bank Credit Facilities and Commercial Paper Programs
We maintain bank credit facilities for working capital and general corporate purposes. At August 30, 2015, we had borrowing capacity within these facilities of $407, of which $337 was maintained by our international operations. Of the $337, $153 is guaranteed by the Company. There were no outstanding short-term borrowings under the bank credit facilities at the end of 2015 and 2014.
The Company has letter of credit facilities, for commercial and standby letters of credit, totaling $149. The outstanding commitments under these facilities at the end of 2015 totaled $90, including $89 in standby letters of credit with expiration dates within one year. The bank credit facilities have various expiration dates, all within one year, and we generally intend to renew these facilities prior to their expiration. The amount of borrowings available at any time under our bank credit facilities is reduced by the amount of standby and commercial letters of credit then outstanding.

27


Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (amounts in millions, except per share, share, membership fee, and warehouse count data) (Continued)


Contractual Obligations
As of August 30, 2015, our commitments to make future payments under contractual obligations were as follows: 
 
Payments Due by Fiscal Year
Contractual obligations
2016
 
2017 to 2018
 
2019 to 2020
 
2021 and thereafter
 
Total
Long-term debt(1)
$
1,407

 
$
2,449

 
$
1,855

 
$
834

 
$
6,545

Purchase obligations (merchandise)(2)
6,424

 
5

 

 

 
6,429

Operating leases (3) 
187

 
359

 
321

 
2,097

 
2,964

Construction and land obligations
744

 
43

 
10

 

 
797

Capital lease obligations(4)
24

 
48

 
47

 
452

 
571

Purchase obligations (equipment, services and other)(5)
326

 
38

 
11

 
5

 
380

Other(6)
18

 
29

 
8

 
58

 
113

Total
$
9,130

 
$
2,971

 
$
2,252

 
$
3,446

 
$
17,799

_______________
(1)
Includes contractual interest payments.
(2)
Includes only open merchandise purchase orders.
(3)
Operating lease obligations exclude amounts for common area maintenance, taxes, and insurance and have been reduced by $131 to reflect sub-lease income.
(4)
Includes build-to-suit lease obligations and contractual interest payments.
(5)
The amounts exclude certain services negotiated at the individual warehouse or regional level that are not significant and generally contain clauses allowing for cancellation without significant penalty.
(6)
Includes $54 in asset retirement obligations, and $54 in deferred compensation obligations. The total amount excludes $103 of non-current unrecognized tax contingencies and $22 of other obligations due to uncertainty regarding the timing of future cash payments.
Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
We have no off-balance sheet arrangements that in the opinion of management have had, or are reasonably likely to have, a material current or future effect on our financial condition or consolidated financial statements.
Critical Accounting Estimates
The preparation of our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (U.S. GAAP) requires that we make estimates and judgments including those related to revenue recognition, merchandise inventory valuation, impairment of long-lived assets, insurance/self-insurance liabilities, and income taxes. We base our estimates on historical experience and on assumptions that we believe to be reasonable and we continue to review and evaluate these statements. For further information on significant accounting policies, see discussion in Note 1 to the consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this Report.
Revenue Recognition
We generally recognize sales, which include shipping fees where applicable, net of returns, at the time the member takes possession of merchandise or receives services. When we collect payment from customers prior to the transfer of ownership of merchandise or the performance of services, the amount is generally recorded as deferred sales in the consolidated balance sheets until the sale or service is completed. We provide for estimated sales returns based on historical trends and reduce sales and merchandise costs

28


Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (amounts in millions, except per share, share, membership fee, and warehouse count data) (Continued)


accordingly. Our sales returns reserve is based on an estimate of the net realizable value of merchandise inventories to be returned. Amounts collected from members for sales and value added taxes are recorded on a net basis.
We evaluate whether it is appropriate to record the gross amount of merchandise sales and related costs or a net amount. Generally, when we are the primary obligor, subject to inventory risk, have latitude in establishing prices and selecting suppliers, influence product or service specifications, or have several but not all of these indicators, revenue is recorded on a gross basis. If we are not the primary obligor and do not possess other indicators of gross reporting as noted above, we record a net amount, which is reflected in net sales. We record related shipping fees on a gross basis.
We account for membership fee revenue, net of refunds, on a deferred basis, whereby revenue is recognized ratably over one-year. Our Executive members qualify for a 2% reward on qualified purchases (up to a maximum reward of approximately $750 per year), which can be redeemed only at Costco warehouses. We account for this reward as a reduction in sales. The sales reduction and corresponding liability are computed after giving effect to the estimated impact of non-redemptions based on historical data.
Merchandise Inventories
Merchandise inventories are valued at the lower of cost or market, as determined primarily by the retail inventory method, and are stated using the last-in, first-out (LIFO) method for substantially all U.S. merchandise inventories. We record an adjustment each quarter, if necessary, for the estimated effect of inflation or deflation, and these estimates are adjusted to actual results determined at year-end. We believe the LIFO method more fairly presents the results of operations by more closely matching current costs with current revenues. Merchandise inventories for all foreign operations are primarily valued by the retail inventory method and are stated using the first-in, first-out (FIFO) method.
We provide for estimated inventory losses (shrink) between physical inventory counts as a percentage of net sales. The provision is adjusted periodically to reflect results of the actual physical inventory counts, which generally occur in the second and fourth quarters of the year.
Inventory cost, where appropriate, is reduced by estimates of vendor rebates when earned or as we progress toward earning those rebates, provided they are probable and reasonably estimable. Other consideration received from vendors is generally recorded as a reduction of merchandise costs upon completion of contractual milestones, terms of agreement, or other systematic and rational approaches.
Impairment of Long-Lived Assets
We evaluate our long-lived assets for impairment on an annual basis, when relocating or closing a facility, or when events or changes in circumstances occur that may indicate the carrying amount of the asset group, generally an individual warehouse, may not be fully recoverable. Our judgments are based on existing market and operational conditions. Future events could cause us to conclude that impairment factors exist, requiring a downward adjustment of these assets to their then-current fair value.
Insurance/Self-Insurance Liabilities
We use a combination of insurance and self-insurance mechanisms, including for certain risks, a wholly-owned captive insurance subsidiary and participation in a reinsurance program, to provide for potential liabilities for workers’ compensation, general liability, property damage, directors’ and officers’ liability, vehicle liability, and employee health care benefits. Liabilities associated with the risks that we retain are not discounted and are estimated, in part, by considering historical claims experience, demographic factors, severity factors and other actuarial assumptions. The estimated accruals for these liabilities could be significantly affected if future occurrences and claims differ from these assumptions and historical trends.
Income Taxes
The determination of our provision for income taxes requires significant judgment, the use of estimates, and the interpretation and application of complex tax laws. Significant judgment is required in assessing the

29


Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (amounts in millions, except per share, share, membership fee, and warehouse count data) (Continued)


timing and amounts of deductible and taxable items and the probability of sustaining uncertain tax positions. The benefits associated with uncertain tax positions are recorded in our consolidated financial statements only after determining a more-likely-than-not probability that the positions will withstand challenge from tax authorities. Additionally, certain of our cumulative foreign undistributed earnings are considered indefinitely reinvested. These earnings would be subject to U.S. income tax if we changed our position and could result in a U.S. deferred tax liability. When facts and circumstances change, we reassess these positions and record any changes in the consolidated financial statements as appropriate.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
See Note 1 to the consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this Report for a detailed description of recent accounting pronouncements.
Item 7A—Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk (amounts in millions)
Our exposure to financial market risk results from fluctuations in interest rates and foreign currency exchange rates. We do not engage in speculative or leveraged transactions or hold or issue financial instruments for trading purposes.
Interest Rate Risk
Our exposure to market risk for changes in interest rates relates primarily to our investment holdings that are diversified among various instruments considered to be cash equivalents as defined in Note 1 to the consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this Report, as well as short-term investments in government and agency securities, and asset and mortgage-backed securities with effective maturities of generally three months to five years at the date of purchase. The primary objective of our investment activities is to preserve principal and secondarily to generate yields. The majority of our short-term investments are in fixed interest rate securities. These securities are subject to changes in fair value due to interest rate fluctuations.
Our Board of Directors have approved a policy that limits investments in the U.S. to direct U.S. government and government agency obligations, repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. government and government agency obligations, and U.S. government and government agency money market funds. Our wholly-owned captive insurance subsidiary invests in U.S. government and government agency obligations, corporate notes and bonds, and asset and mortgage-backed securities with a minimum overall portfolio average credit rating of AA+.
Our Canadian and Other International subsidiaries’ investments are primarily in money market funds, bankers’ acceptances and bank certificates of deposit, generally denominated in their local currencies.
We performed a sensitivity analysis to determine the impact that a 100 basis-point change in interest rates would have on the value of our investment portfolio. At the end of 2015, the incremental change in the fair market value was $27. For those investments that are classified as available-for-sale, the unrealized gains or losses related to fluctuations in market volatility and interest rates are reflected within stockholders’ equity in accumulated other comprehensive income.
The nature and amount of our long-term debt may vary as a result of future business requirements, market conditions, and other factors. As of the end of 2015, the majority of our long-term debt is fixed rate Senior Notes, carried at $5,596. Fluctuations in interest rates may affect the fair value of the fixed-rate debt. See Note 4 to the consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this Report for more information on our long-term debt.
Foreign Currency-Exchange Risk
Our foreign subsidiaries conduct certain transactions in their non-functional currencies, which exposes us to fluctuations in exchange rates. We manage these fluctuations, in part, through the use of forward foreign-exchange contracts, seeking to economically hedge the impact of fluctuations of foreign exchange on known future expenditures denominated in a non-functional foreign-currency. The contracts are intended primarily

30


Item 7A—Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk (amounts in millions)(Continued)

to economically hedge exposure to U.S. dollar merchandise inventory expenditures made by our international subsidiaries whose functional currency is other than the U.S. dollar. Currently, these contracts do not qualify for derivative hedge accounting. We seek to mitigate risk with the use of these contracts and do not intend to engage in speculative transactions. These contracts do not contain any credit-risk-related contingent features.
While we seek to manage counterparty risk associated with these contracts by limiting transactions to counterparties with which we have established banking relationships, there can be no assurance that this practice is effective. These contracts are limited to less than one year in duration. See Note 1 and Note 3 to the consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this Report for additional information on the fair value of unsettled forward foreign-exchange contracts at the end of 2015 and 2014. A hypothetical 10% strengthening of the functional currency compared to the non-functional currency exchange rates at August 30, 2015 would have decreased the fair value of the contracts by $88 and resulted in an unrealized loss in the consolidated statements of income for the same amount.
Commodity Price Risk
We are exposed to fluctuations in prices for energy that we consume, particularly electricity and natural gas, which we seek to partially mitigate through fixed-price contracts for certain of our warehouses and other facilities, predominately in the U.S. and Canada. We also enter into variable-priced contracts for some purchases of electricity and natural gas, in addition to fuel for our gas stations, on an index basis. These contracts meet the characteristics of derivative instruments, but generally qualify for the “normal purchases or normal sales” exception under authoritative guidance and, thus, require no mark-to-market adjustment.
Item 8—Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
The following documents are filed as part of Part II, Item 8 of this Report on the pages listed below:
Management’s Report on the Consolidated Financial Statements
Costco’s management is responsible for the preparation, integrity and objectivity of the accompanying consolidated financial statements and the related financial information. The consolidated financial statements have been prepared in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (U.S. GAAP) and necessarily include certain amounts that are based on estimates and informed judgments. The Company’s management is also responsible for the preparation of the related financial information included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and its accuracy and consistency with the consolidated financial statements.
The consolidated financial statements have been audited by KPMG LLP, an independent registered public accounting firm, who conducted their audit in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). The independent registered public accounting firm’s

31


responsibility is to express an opinion as to the fairness with which such consolidated financial statements present our financial position, results of operations and cash flows in accordance with U.S. GAAP.
Item 9—Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
None.
Item 9A—Controls and Procedures
Disclosure Controls and Procedures
As of the end of the period covered by this Annual Report on Form 10-K, we performed an evaluation under the supervision and with the participation of management, including our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, of our disclosure controls and procedures (as defined in Rules 13a-15(e) or 15d-15(e) under the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 (the Exchange Act)). Based upon that evaluation, our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer concluded that, as of the end of the period covered by this Annual Report, our disclosure controls and procedures are effective.
There has been no change in our internal control over financial reporting (as defined in Rules 13a-15(f) or 15d-15(f) of the Exchange Act) during our fiscal quarter ended August 30, 2015, that has materially affected or is reasonably likely to materially affect our internal control over financial reporting.
Management’s Annual Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting
Our management is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting as defined in Rule 13a-15(f) under the Exchange Act. Our internal control over financial reporting is designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with U.S. GAAP and includes those policies and procedures that: (1) pertain to the maintenance of records that in reasonable detail accurately and fairly reflect our transactions and the dispositions of our assets; (2) provide reasonable assurance that our transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and that our receipts and expenditures are being made only in accordance with appropriate authorizations; and (3) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use or disposition of our assets that could have a material effect on our financial statements.
Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Therefore, even those systems determined to be effective can provide only reasonable assurance with respect to financial statement preparation and presentation.
Under the supervision and with the participation of our management, we assessed the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as of August 30, 2015, using the criteria set forth by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) in Internal Control—Integrated Framework (2013). Based on its assessment, management has concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was effective as of August 30, 2015. The attestation of KPMG LLP, our independent registered public accounting firm, on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting is included with the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 of this Report.
/s/    W. CRAIG JELINEK
 
W. Craig Jelinek
 
President, Chief Executive Officer and Director
 
/s/    RICHARD A. GALANTI
 
Richard A. Galanti
 
Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Director
 

32


Item 9B—Other Information
On February 27, 2015, we entered into a Co-Branded Credit Card Program Agreement (the “Program Agreement”) with Citibank, N.A. (“Citi”). Under the terms of the Program Agreement, Citi would become the exclusive issuer of our co-branded credit cards to new and existing members of the Company and Visa U.S.A. Inc. would replace American Express as the credit card network for Costco in the United States and Puerto Rico. Our current expectation is that Citi will purchase the current co-branded credit card portfolio from American Express by April 1, 2016 and begin issuing Visa cards by the summer of 2016. We would receive various forms of consideration under the Program Agreement. The initial term of the Program Agreement is ten years.
The most significant expected revenue provided to Costco from Citi under the co-brand credit card program is the percentage or royalty on "external spend," purchases made with the co-branded card other than from Costco. That percentage will vary based primarily on the amount of external spend over the term of the program. Costco's royalty revenue will also be impacted by the nature and extent of the loyalty rewards to be provided to cardholders under the program, primarily by Citi but also partially by Costco under certain circumstances. The amount and character of the loyalty rewards have yet to be determined and may be adjusted over the term of the program.
The next most significant expected benefit to Costco is the reduction in the base discount ratethe fee Costco is charged for accepting the co-branded credit card. Costco's cost of acceptance of the co-branded credit card will be lower than the cost that Costco bears currently.
The loyalty rewards earned by co-branded cardholders are expected to be in the form of certificates redeemable at Costco, for cash or merchandise. Based on prior experience, Costco expects that most cardholders will redeem the certificates for merchandise, resulting in a benefit to net sales and gross margin on those transactions.
Costco will also receive benefits from Citi in the form of a bounty on new credit card accounts Costco sources, assistance in increasing membership, marketing assistance, staff support, and potentially a share of any profits of the program.
PART III
Item 10—Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
Information relating to the availability of our code of ethics for senior financial officers and a list of our executive officers appear in Item 1 of this Report. The information required by this Item concerning our directors and nominees for director is incorporated herein by reference to the sections entitled “Proposal 1: Election of Directors,” “Directors,” “Committees of the Board” and “Section 16(a) Beneficial Ownership Reporting Compliance” in Costco’s Proxy Statement for its 2016 annual meeting of stockholders, which will be filed with the SEC within 120 days of the end of our fiscal year (“Proxy Statement”).
Item 11—Executive Compensation
The information required by this Item is incorporated herein by reference to the sections entitled “Compensation of Directors,” “Executive Compensation,” and “Compensation Discussion and Analysis” in Costco’s Proxy Statement.
Item 12—Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
The information required by this Item is incorporated herein by reference to the section entitled “Principal Shareholders” and “Equity Compensation Plan Information” in Costco’s Proxy Statement.

33


Item 13—Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
The information required by this Item is incorporated herein by reference to the sections entitled “Proposal 1: Election of Directors,” “Directors,” “Committees of the Board,” “Shareholder Communications to the Board,” “Meeting Attendance,” “Report of the Compensation Committee of the Board of Directors,” “Certain Relationships and Transactions” and “Report of the Audit Committee” in Costco’s Proxy Statement.
Item 14—Principal Accounting Fees and Services
The information required by this Item is incorporated herein by reference to the sections entitled “Independent Public Accountants” in Costco’s Proxy Statement.
PART IV
Item 15—Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules
(a)
Documents filed as part of this report are as follows:
1.
Financial Statements:
See the listing of Financial Statements included as a part of this Form 10-K in Item 8 of Part II.
2.Financial Statement Schedules:
All schedules have been omitted because the required information is not present or is not present in amounts sufficient to require submission of the schedule, or because the information required is included in the consolidated financial statements, including the notes thereto.
3.Exhibits:
The required exhibits are included at the end of the Form 10-K Annual Report and are described in the Exhibit Index immediately preceding the first exhibit.
(b)
Financial Statement Schedules—None.

34


SIGNATURES
Pursuant to the requirements of Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the registrant has duly caused this report to be signed on its behalf by the undersigned, thereunto duly authorized.
October 13, 2015
 
COSTCO WHOLESALE CORPORATION
(Registrant)
 
 
 
 
By
 
/s/ RICHARD A. GALANTI
 
 
 
Richard A. Galanti
Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Director

Pursuant to the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, this report has been signed below by the following persons on behalf of the registrant and in the capacities and on the dates indicated.
By
 
/s/ W. CRAIG JELINEK
 
 
 
October 13, 2015
 
 
W. Craig Jelinek
President, Chief Executive Officer and Director
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By
 
/s/ JEFFREY H. BROTMAN
 
 
 
October 13, 2015
 
 
Jeffrey H. Brotman
Chairman of the Board
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By
 
/s/ RICHARD A. GALANTI
 
 
 
October 13, 2015
 
 
Richard A. Galanti
Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Director (Principal Financial Officer)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By
 
/s/ DAVID S. PETTERSON
 
 
 
October 13, 2015
 
 
David S. Petterson
Senior Vice President and Controller
(Principal Accounting Officer)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By
 
/s/ SUSAN L. DECKER
 
 
 
October 13, 2015
 
 
Susan L. Decker
Director
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By
 
/s/ DANIEL J. EVANS
 
 
 
October 13, 2015
 
 
Daniel J. Evans
Director
 
 
 
 

35


By
 
/s/ HAMILTON E. JAMES
 
 
 
October 13, 2015
 
 
Hamilton E. James
Director
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By
 
/s/ RICHARD M. LIBENSON
 
 
 
October 13, 2015
 
 
Richard M. Libenson
Director
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By
 
/s/ JOHN W. MEISENBACH
 
 
 
October 13, 2015
 
 
John W. Meisenbach
Director
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By
 
/s/ CHARLES T. MUNGER
 
 
 
October 13, 2015
 
 
Charles T. Munger
Director
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By
 
/S/ JEFFREY S. RAIKES
 
 
 
October 13, 2015
 
 
Jeffrey S. Raikes
Director
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By
 
/S/ JILL S. RUCKELSHAUS
 
 
 
October 13, 2015
 
 
Jill S. Ruckelshaus
Director
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By
 
/S/ JAMES D. SINEGAL
 
 
 
October 13, 2015
 
 
James D. Sinegal
Director
 
 
 
 

36


REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM
The Board of Directors and Stockholders
Costco Wholesale Corporation:

We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of Costco Wholesale Corporation and subsidiaries as of August 30, 2015 and August 31, 2014, and the related consolidated statements of income, comprehensive income, equity, and cash flows for the 52-week periods ended August 30, 2015, August 31, 2014, and September 1, 2013. These consolidated financial statements are the responsibility of the Company’s management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on these consolidated financial statements based on our audits.

We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement. An audit includes examining, on a test basis, evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. An audit also includes assessing the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall financial statement presentation. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.

In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of Costco Wholesale Corporation and subsidiaries as of August 30, 2015 and August 31, 2014, and the results of their operations and their cash flows for the 52-week periods ended August 30, 2015, August 31, 2014 and September 1, 2013, in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles.

We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States), Costco Wholesale Corporation’s internal control over financial reporting as of August 30, 2015, based on criteria established in Internal Control - Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO), and our report dated October 13, 2015 expressed an unqualified opinion on the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting.

/s/ KPMG LLP
Seattle, Washington
October 13, 2015

37


REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM
The Board of Directors and Stockholders
Costco Wholesale Corporation:

We have audited Costco Wholesale Corporation’s internal control over financial reporting as of August 30, 2015, based on criteria established in Internal Control - Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO). The Company’s management is responsible for maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting and for its assessment of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting, included in the accompanying management’s annual report on internal control over financial reporting included in Item 9A. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the Company’s internal control over financial reporting based on our audit.

We conducted our audit in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether effective internal control over financial reporting was maintained in all material respects. Our audit included obtaining an understanding of internal control over financial reporting, assessing the risk that a material weakness exists, and testing and evaluating the design and operating effectiveness of internal control based on the assessed risk. Our audit also included performing such other procedures as we considered necessary in the circumstances. We believe that our audit provides a reasonable basis for our opinion.

A company’s internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. A company’s internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that (1) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets of the company; (2) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and that receipts and expenditures of the company are being made only in accordance with authorizations of management and directors of the company; and (3) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of the company’s assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements.

Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.

In our opinion, the Company maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of August 30, 2015, based on criteria established in Internal Control - Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (2013).

We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States), the consolidated balance sheets of the Company as of August 30, 2015 and August 31, 2014, and the related consolidated statements of operations, comprehensive income, equity, and cash flows for each of the 52-week periods ended August 30, 2015, August 31, 2014 and September 1, 2013, and our report dated October 13, 2015 expressed an unqualified opinion on those consolidated financial statements.

/s/ KPMG LLP
Seattle, Washington
October 13, 2015

38


COSTCO WHOLESALE CORPORATION
CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
(amounts in millions, except par value and share data)

 
August 30,
2015
 
August 31,
2014
ASSETS
 
 
 
CURRENT ASSETS
 
 
 
Cash and cash equivalents
$
4,801

 
$
5,738

Short-term investments
1,618

 
1,577

Receivables, net
1,224

 
1,148

Merchandise inventories
8,908

 
8,456

Deferred income taxes and other current assets
748

 
669

Total current assets
17,299

 
17,588

PROPERTY AND EQUIPMENT
 
 
 
Land
4,961

 
4,716

Buildings and improvements
12,618

 
12,522

Equipment and fixtures
5,274

 
4,845

Construction in progress
811

 
592

 
23,664

 
22,675

Less accumulated depreciation and amortization
(8,263
)
 
(7,845
)
Net property and equipment
15,401

 
14,830

OTHER ASSETS
740

 
606

TOTAL ASSETS
$
33,440

 
$
33,024

LIABILITIES AND EQUITY
 
 
 
CURRENT LIABILITIES
 
 
 
Accounts payable
$
9,011

 
$
8,491

Current portion of long-term debt
1,283

 
0

Accrued salaries and benefits
2,468

 
2,231

Accrued member rewards
813

 
773

Deferred membership fees
1,269

 
1,254

Other current liabilities
1,696

 
1,663

Total current liabilities
16,540

 
14,412

LONG-TERM DEBT, excluding current portion
4,864

 
5,093

DEFERRED INCOME TAXES AND OTHER LIABILITIES
1,193

 
1,004

Total liabilities
22,597

 
20,509

COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES


 


EQUITY
 
 
 
Preferred stock $.005 par value; 100,000,000 shares authorized; no shares issued and outstanding
0

 
0

Common stock $.005 par value; 900,000,000 shares authorized; 437,952,000 and 437,683,000 shares issued and outstanding
2

 
2

Additional paid-in capital
5,218

 
4,919

Accumulated other comprehensive loss
(1,121
)
 
(76
)
Retained earnings
6,518

 
7,458

Total Costco stockholders’ equity
10,617

 
12,303

Noncontrolling interests
226

 
212

Total equity
10,843

 
12,515

TOTAL LIABILITIES AND EQUITY
$
33,440

 
$
33,024


The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.

39


COSTCO WHOLESALE CORPORATION
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF INCOME
(amounts in millions, except per share data)
 
 
52 Weeks Ended
 
52 Weeks Ended
 
52 Weeks Ended
 
August 30,
2015
 
August 31,
2014
 
September 1,
2013
REVENUE
 
 
 
 
 
Net sales
$
113,666

 
$
110,212

 
$
102,870

Membership fees
2,533

 
2,428

 
2,286

Total revenue
116,199

 
112,640

 
105,156

OPERATING EXPENSES
 
 
 
 
 
Merchandise costs
101,065

 
98,458

 
91,948

Selling, general and administrative
11,445

 
10,899

 
10,104

Preopening expenses
65

 
63

 
51

Operating income
3,624

 
3,220

 
3,053

OTHER INCOME (EXPENSE)
 
 
 
 
 
Interest expense
(124
)
 
(113
)
 
(99
)
Interest income and other, net
104

 
90

 
97

INCOME BEFORE INCOME TAXES
3,604

 
3,197

 
3,051

Provision for income taxes
1,195

 
1,109

 
990

Net income including noncontrolling interests
2,409

 
2,088

 
2,061

Net income attributable to noncontrolling interests
(32
)
 
(30
)
 
(22
)
NET INCOME ATTRIBUTABLE TO COSTCO
$
2,377

 
$
2,058

 
$
2,039

NET INCOME PER COMMON SHARE ATTRIBUTABLE TO COSTCO:
 
 
 
 
 
Basic
$
5.41

 
$
4.69

 
$
4.68

Diluted
$
5.37

 
$
4.65

 
$
4.63

Shares used in calculation (000’s)
 
 
 
 
 
Basic
439,455

 
438,693

 
435,741

Diluted
442,716

 
442,485

 
440,512

CASH DIVIDENDS DECLARED PER COMMON SHARE
$
6.51

 
$
1.33

 
$
8.17







The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.

40


COSTCO WHOLESALE CORPORATION
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF COMPREHENSIVE INCOME
(amounts in millions)

 
52 Weeks Ended
 
52 Weeks Ended
 
52 Weeks Ended
 
August 30,
2015
 
August 31,
2014
 
September 1,
2013
NET INCOME INCLUDING NONCONTROLLING INTERESTS
$
2,409

 
$
2,088

 
$
2,061

Foreign-currency translation adjustment and other, net
(1,063
)
 
49

 
(278
)
Comprehensive income
1,346

 
2,137

 
1,783

Less: Comprehensive income attributable to noncontrolling interests
14

 
33

 
22

COMPREHENSIVE INCOME ATTRIBUTABLE TO COSTCO
$
1,332

 
$
2,104

 
$
1,761





































The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.

41


COSTCO WHOLESALE CORPORATION
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF EQUITY
(amounts in millions)

 
Common Stock
 
Additional
Paid-in
Capital
 
Accumulated
Other
Comprehensive
Income (Loss)
 
Retained
Earnings
 
Total Costco
Stockholders’
Equity
 
Noncontrolling
Interests
 
Total
Equity
 
Shares (000’s)
 
Amount
 
BALANCE AT SEPTEMBER 2, 2012
432,350

 
$
2

 
$
4,369

 
$
156

 
$
7,834

 
$
12,361

 
$
157

 
$
12,518

Net income

 

 

 

 
2,039

 
2,039

 
22

 
2,061

Foreign-currency translation adjustment and other, net

 

 

 
(278
)
 

 
(278
)
 

 
(278
)
Stock-based compensation

 

 
285

 

 

 
285

 

 
285

Stock options exercised, including tax effects
1,435

 

 
75

 

 

 
75

 

 
75

Release of vested restricted stock units (RSUs), including tax effects
2,609

 

 
(85
)
 

 

 
(85
)
 

 
(85
)
Conversion of convertible notes
802

 

 
30

 

 

 
30

 

 
30

Repurchases of common stock
(357
)
 

 
(4
)
 

 
(30
)
 
(34
)
 

 
(34
)
Cash dividends declared

 

 

 

 
(3,560
)
 
(3,560
)
 

 
(3,560
)
BALANCE AT SEPTEMBER 1, 2013
436,839

 
2

 
4,670

 
(122
)
 
6,283

 
10,833

 
179

 
11,012

Net income

 

 

 

 
2,058

 
2,058

 
30

 
2,088

Foreign-currency translation adjustment and other, net

 

 

 
46

 

 
46

 
3

 
49

Stock-based compensation

 

 
327

 

 

 
327

 

 
327

Stock options exercised, including tax effects
971

 

 
58

 

 

 
58

 

 
58

Release of vested RSUs, including tax effects
2,770

 

 
(102
)
 

 

 
(102
)
 

 
(102
)
Conversion of convertible notes
18

 

 
1

 

 

 
1

 

 
1

Repurchases of common stock
(2,915
)
 

 
(35
)
 

 
(299
)
 
(334
)
 

 
(334
)
Cash dividends declared

 

 

 

 
(584
)
 
(584
)
 

 
(584
)
BALANCE AT AUGUST 31, 2014
437,683

 
2

 
4,919

 
(76
)
 
7,458

 
12,303

 
212

 
12,515

Net income

 

 

 

 
2,377

 
2,377

 
32

 
2,409

Foreign-currency translation adjustment and other, net

 

 

 
(1,045
)
 

 
(1,045
)
 
(18
)
 
(1,063
)
Stock-based compensation

 

 
394

 

 

 
394

 

 
394

Stock options exercised, including tax effects
989

 

 
69

 

 

 
69

 

 
69

Release of vested RSUs, including tax effects
2,736

 

 
(122
)
 

 

 
(122
)
 

 
(122
)
Repurchases of common stock
(3,456
)
 

 
(42
)
 

 
(452
)
 
(494
)
 

 
(494
)
Cash dividends declared

 

 

 

 
(2,865
)
 
(2,865
)
 

 
(2,865
)
BALANCE AT AUGUST 30, 2015
437,952

 
$
2

 
$
5,218

 
$
(1,121
)
 
$
6,518

 
$
10,617

 
$
226

 
$
10,843



The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.

42


COSTCO WHOLESALE CORPORATION
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS
(amounts in millions)
 
52 Weeks Ended
 
52 Weeks Ended
 
52 Weeks Ended
 
August 30,
2015
 
August 31,
2014
 
September 1,
2013
CASH FLOWS FROM OPERATING ACTIVITIES
 
 
 
 
 
Net income including noncontrolling interests
$
2,409