Starbucks sees increase in spending, visits

Earns Starbucks
Coffee retailer Starbucks Corp. reported stronger-than-expected earnings Thursday.Elise Amendola / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

More people visited Starbucks Corp. coffee shops in the fourth quarter this year than last, and they spent more money when they did, an executive said Thursday.

But it was the company's cost-cutting that boosted its profit. It had fewer stores than a year earlier, and its revenue fell slightly.

Chief Financial Officer Troy Alstead said the average amount customers spent in each visit to Starbucks rose in the period. And he said sales at shops open at least a year recovered from the third quarter and from last year.

"We are seeing consumers coming in and spending and we're seeing the improvement across all parts of our day," he told The Associated Press. "We're very encouraged by what we saw in the second half of the (fiscal) year. It gives us some encouragement for the quarter coming up."

The gourmet coffee chain earned $150 million, or 20 cents per share, during the three-month period that ended in late September. Excluding one-time items, that amounted to 24 cents per share. Last year, it earned $5.4 million, or a penny per share.

But the Seattle company's revenue dipped almost 4 percent to $2.42 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters predict a profit of 21 cents per share on revenue of $2.39 billion for the quarter. Those estimates typically exclude one-time items.

For the full year, Starbucks earned $390.8 million, or 52 cents per share. That's up nearly 24 percent from last year. Revenue for the year slipped 6 percent to $9.77 billion.