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Costco vs. Nvidia: Which Is the Better Buy?

Both stocks have been strong performers in recent years and trade at elevated valuations, but which stock belongs in your portfolio: Costco (COST) or Nvidia (NVDA)?


Nvidia (NVDA) and Costco (COST) both have great stocks, but their business models could not be more different. Nvidia has a complex product but low capital requirements, exploding demand due to AI, and thus huge growth and profit margins.

In fact, the company’s market cap has recently eclipsed a $3 trillion valuation, making it one of the three most valuable publicly traded companies on the planet (alongside Microsoft (MSFT) and Apple (AAPL) and whose rankings in the top three vary by day).

Costco stock, on the other hand, has outperformed the market by a wide margin over the last decade based on a simple, consistent strategy, with incremental improvements a key part of their success. It delivers modest, consistent growth with a well-executed, capital-intensive and logistics-heavy business model.

The Success Behind Costco Stock

Costco had $230 billion of revenue in 2023, 125 million members worldwide with 90% renewal rates, 860 stores (adding 20-25 each year), and only 300,000 employees (Walmart has 2 million), only a 7% annual employee turnover rate after the first year, plus annual sales of $1,800 a square foot that blows away the competition. Costco is even selling $200 million worth of small gold bars each month.

This is a juggernaut that pays out to shareholders 80% of annual net income.

Its average warehouse produces an incredible $200 million of revenue a year, with top performers reaching as high as $400 million.

My Costco takeaway is twofold. One is that given its size and physical bottlenecks, it can only grow its top line about 8%-10% a year, but its stock still trades at a high 50X multiple of earnings.

The second is that the key question for investors is whether Costco can continue its expansion overseas. It may surprise you that it already has 108 warehouses in Canada, 40 in Mexico, four in Puerto Rico, 33 in Japan, 29 in the United Kingdom, 18 in South Korea, 15 in Australia, 14 in Taiwan, six in China, four in Spain, two in France, one in Iceland, one in New Zealand, and one in Sweden

In short, Costco’s success is largely attributable to a simple strategy executed consistently over time.

The Risks for Nvidia Stock

In its most recent quarter, Nvidia reported that sales more than tripled to $26 billion, with a massive net profit of $14.9 billion due to the firm’s impressive margins.

What could go wrong to throw Nvidia’s tremendous momentum off course?

There are several geopolitical events that could interrupt where Nvidia’s software designs are turned into semiconductor chips. Mainly, at Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM).

Nvidia’s worst-case scenario is an open conflict regarding Taiwan, but even lower grade tensions could interrupt the complex semiconductor supply chain and therefore the stock price of players in this sector.

Another risk is that an Nvidia competitor could figure out a way to design a better and faster AI specialist artificial intelligence code. That is what many companies are trying to do, such as Cerebras, Groq, and another startup, MatX.

Still, for the next year or so, Nvidia is in the catbird’s seat with a significant advantage. It has built up its software architecture over many years but surely the biggest customers for AI chips, such as OpenAI, Amazon, Meta, Microsoft, and Google are all doing all they can to reduce their dependence on Nvidia.

Nvidia vs. Costco

If you own or are thinking of buying these two stocks right now, what should you do?

Both stocks have high valuations.

Both companies are disruptive and dominating, which is what I look for in my global investment advisory, Cabot Explorer.

Nvidia clearly is demonstrating much more explosive growth in revenue and profit than Costco, but seeing the competitive landscape out a couple of years is nearly impossible.

Costco is growing slower, but the probability of consistent annual gains is much higher.

The bottom line is this: Costco stock is an investment, so buy on any pullbacks and hold it for the long haul. Nvidia stock is a trade, so make sure to watch it closely, take partial profits from time to time, and protect your downside with options.

Carl Delfeld is your guide to growth trends and bull markets around the world. His Cabot Explorer will show you the vast profit potential of investing in emerging economies as well as other world stock markets.