Starbucks Forecast Trails Estimates as Asia Sales Gains Slow

Starbucks Corp., the world’s largest coffee-shop chain, repeated a forecast for fiscal 2014 profit that was lower than analysts’ estimates after sales gains slowed in Asia.

Profit excluding certain items will be as much as $2.65 a share in the year ending in September, the Seattle-based company said in a statement yesterday, repeating guidance it gave in July. Analysts projected $2.67, on average. Starbucks also said full-year sales will rise 10 percent or more, compared with a previous forecast for growth of 10 percent to 13 percent.

Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz has been expanding in China to tap growing demand from coffee drinkers in the world’s most-populous nation. Sales at Starbucks stores open at least 13 months rose 8 percent in its China and Asia Pacific region in the fiscal fourth quarter ended Sept. 29. That was slower than the 9 percent gain in the third quarter and trailed analysts’ average estimate for a 9.1 percent increase.

“Expectations were high going into the quarter,” Sharon Zackfia, an analyst at William Blair & Co. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Starbucks rose 0.3 percent to $81.05 at the close in New York. The shares have climbed 51 percent this year, compared with a 23 percent rise for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Net income in the quarter increased to $481.1 million, or 63 cents a share, from a year earlier, Starbucks said. Analysts estimated 60 cents a share, the average of 27 projections compiled by Bloomberg.

Store Sales

Comparable-store sales rose 7 percent globally, topping the 6.7 percent average estimate of analysts surveyed by Consensus Metrix, a researcher owned by Wayne, New Jersey-based Kaul Advisory Group. Sales on that basis increased 8 percent in the Americas and 2 percent in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Analysts projected gains of 7.1 percent in the Americas and 1.7 percent in Europe.

“The U.S. has been consistently, phenomenally strong for us,” Chief Financial Officer Troy Alstead said in an interview yesterday.

Same-store sales are considered an indicator of a retailer’s growth because they include only older, established locations.

Starbucks said yesterday it plans to add 1,500 new locations in its fiscal 2014, up from a previous projection for 1,400 new stores. The company raised its quarterly dividend 24 percent to 26 cents a share.

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