UPDATE 1-Costco to pay $7 special dividend on Dec. 18

Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:41am EST

Nov 28 (Reuters) - U.S. retailer Costco Wholesale Corp is to pay a special dividend of $7.00, worth a total $3.0 billion to investors, it said when posting monthly same-store sales that beat forecasts.

"Our strong balance sheet and favourable access to the credit markets allow us to provide shareholders with this dividend," chief financial officer Richard Galanti said in a statement on Wednesday.

On Nov. 19, Costco's bigger rival Wal-Mart Stores moved its planned dividend into late December from early January to help shareholders avoid a looming jump in the tax rate due to the so-called fiscal cliff.

Costco's special dividend will be paid on Dec. 18, with the record date set at Dec. 10.

November sales at Costco stores open at least a year rose 6 percent, helped by higher gasoline prices and dollar weakness, the company said. That compared with a forecast for 5.4 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Excluding the effects of fuel and currency, Costco posted a November same-store sales increase of 5 percent. Net sales rose 9 percent to $8.15 billion in the four weeks to Nov. 25.

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