BOB NELSON, HEAD OF FINANCE AND IR, COSTCO WHOLESALE CORP.: Good morning and thank you for calling Costco Wholesale Corporation. I'm Bob Nelson, Head of Finance and Investor Relations here at Costco. And this morning I will review with you our sales results for the five-week retail month of December, which for us started on Monday, December 1st and ended on this past Sunday, January 4th. For comparable sales results this five-week period is compared to the same five-week period last year, specifically Monday, December 3, 2007 through Sunday, January 6, 2008.
Before I begin, and as usual, let me start by stating that the following discussion will include forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, and that these statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause actual events, results or performance to differ materially from those indicated by such statements.
These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to -- domestic and international economic conditions including exchange rates; the effects of competition and regulation; uncertainties in the financial markets; consumer and small-business spending patterns and debt levels; conditions affecting the acquisition, development, ownership or use of real estate; actions of vendors; rising costs associated with employees including healthcare and worker's compensation costs; rising costs associated with the acquisition of merchandise including the direct and indirect affects of the rising cost of petroleum-based products and fuel and energy costs; geopolitical conditions and other risks identified from time to time in the Company's public statements and reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company does not undertake any obligation to update these discussions due to subsequent events or circumstances.