Rank: 24 (Previous rank: 28)
CEO: W. Craig Jelinek
Was this company a 2011 top stock?
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Even as the economy slowly recovers, many shoppers are sticking to the thrifty habits they acquired over the past few years. This spells good news for Costco. Bargain-hunting bulk shoppers bought $89 billion worth of food, electronics, and oversized miscellany at the company's 600 warehouses in 2011, a 14% jump from the previous year. Costco also reaped the benefits of rising gas prices, since it charges members less for gas than nearby competitors — a strategy that brings more bodies into its warehouses. The move brings more bodies into its warehouses.
While merchandise costs are rising for the wholesale giant, the company is keeping their product prices steady. In a sign of the times, Costco raised its membership fees in November 2011 by 10% for its U.S. and Canadian customers, the first such increase in five years. It doesn't seem to have affected it much, with 86% of their members renewing worldwide.
In another sign of changing times at Costco, co-founder Jim Sinegal stepped down from the CEO spot in January, handing over the reins to Craig Jelinek, who had been serving as president and COO and has been working at the company since 1984. Sinegal remains as an advisor and board member.
Industry: Specialty Retailers: Other