James D. Sinegal

Discount warehouse king JAMES D. SINEGAL, CEO of Costco, had another banner year. By keeping a lid on costs--the company does no advertising--and pushing into high-profit services such as insurance, Sinegal, 61, drove up profits 25%, to $312 million, in the year ended in August. With margins approaching 12%, Costco is closing in on Wal-Mart Stores' much-envied 13% margins. As a result, the discount days for Costco stock are over. Shares rose about 69% in '97, to 41.

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