CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Costco quarterly profit misses estimates

Thu Mar 6, 2014 7:40am EST

(Corrects paragraph 4 to say quarterly revenue missed estimates, not beat)

* Profit falls 15 pct to $463 mln

* Sales rise 6 percent to $25.76 bln

March 6 (Reuters) - Warehouse club operator Costco Wholesale Corp's quarterly profit fell 15 percent, missing analysts' estimates, hurt by weaker gross margins in its fresh-food business and some non-foods merchandises.

The company's profit fell to $463 million, or $1.05 per share, for the 12 weeks ended Feb. 16 from $547 million, or $1.24 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected the company to earn $1.17 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales rose 6 percent to $25.76 billion, missing the average analyst estimate of $26.65 billion.

Weaker gross margins, particularly during the four-week holiday selling season, and lower international profit due to weakening of foreign exchange rates hurt the results, Richard Galanti, chief financial officer, said.

Costco, which sells everything from carrots to coffins at its cavernous stores, said sales at stores open at least a year rose 3 percent in the quarter.

Excluding fuel and forex, same-store sales rose 5 percent for the 12-week period.

Costco has seen steady growth in sales since 2009 due to a continuing increase in its membership base, which saw 4.3 million new members signing up in 2013, according to research firm Trefis. (Reporting by Varun Aggarwal and Aditi Shrivastava; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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