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ISSAQUAH, WA-Expect Costco Wholesale Corp. to ramp up expansion in 2011 and beyond, the company said at its first quarter 2010 conference call.

The company plans to open 16 to 18 new stores this year, 13 to 14 of them in the United States. That will grow to the low-20s in 2011 or 2012, and the high-20s beyond that, said Richard A. Galanti, executive VP and CFO. The company recently opened a smaller unit in Manhattan, opening a dim possibility of additional smaller stores.

“Never say ‘never,’ though Manhattan is unique,” Galante said. The company declined to open a store on a small site in Atlanta due to the costs of building what would have been a double-decker parking facility.

Net sales were $16.92 billion, up 6% from the first quarter of 2009. Comparable-store sales rose 3%, with US sales increasing 1% and international comps rising 13%. Net income was $266 million, or $0.60 per diluted share, compared to $263 million.

Costco currently operates 566 warehouses, including 413 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 77 in Canada, 21 in the United Kingdom, seven in Korea, six in Taiwan, nine in Japan, one in Australia and 32 in Mexico.

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