Costco Wholesale Corp., the largest U.S. warehouse club operator, said Thursday its third-quarter profit climbed 32 percent to beat expectations, as discounts on gasoline and food lured shoppers to its stores.

Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco Wholesale Corp. says net income rose to $295.1 million, or 67 cents per share, from $224 million, or 49 cents per share, a year ago, which included a $30.3 million charge. Revenue rose 13 percent to $16.61 billion.

Analysts, on average, expected earnings of 65 cents per share on revenue of $16.35 billion, according to Thomson Financial.

Sales in the quarter rose 13 percent to $16.26 billion, excluding membership fees, which rose to $350.9 million from $317.7 million, the company said. Including membership fees, revenue rose to $16.61 billion from $14.66 billion.

Costco and other discount retail stores, like Wal-Mart Stores Inc's and Sam's Club and BJ's Wholesale Club Inc, have benefited financially in a struggling U.S. retail sector, as cash-strapped shoppers, worried about the weakening U.S. economy, increasingly seek out deals.

In April, Costco's same-store sales growth of 8 percent beat analyst expectations as a result of gasoline price inflation.

Costco currently operates 538 warehouses, 394 clubs in the United States and Puerto Rico, 75 in Canada, 19 in the United Kingdom, 6 in Korea, five in Taiwan, 8 in Japan and 31 in Mexico.

Costco shares were up 30 cents or 0.4 percent at $73.54 during morning Nasdaq Composite trading.