April 25, 2019 / 8:14 PM / 3 months ago

New coffees, delivery push fuel Starbucks quarterly sales, profit view

(Reuters) - Starbucks Corp raised its full-year profit forecast and beat Wall Street estimates for quarterly same-store sales on Thursday, as its new Cloud Macchiato, Matcha tea and cold brews in the United States and speedy delivery network in China drew more customers.

FILE PHOTO: A Starbucks sign is show on one of the companies stores in Los Angeles, California, U.S. October 19,2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Shares of the world’s largest coffee chain, which have surged about 20 percent this year, pared gains after rising as much as 2 percent. They were still on track to hit a record high on Friday.

Its new drinks and a refreshed lunch menu focused on improving customer traffic during the lean afternoon hours boosted same-store sales by 4 percent at established U.S. cafes. Analysts were expecting sales growth of 3.58 percent.

Starbucks also added 13 percent more active members to its loyalty program in the United States as it expanded its delivery services to almost 1,600 stores in seven markets along with UberEats, and improved the speed of its ordering and payment processes on its app and at cafes.

The coffee chain has also been beefing up its delivery network in its second biggest market, China, to more than 2,100 stores in 35 cities by teaming up with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

This comes as it competes with local startup Luckin Coffee, whose speedy growth led it to file for an IPO in the United States earlier this week.

Same-store sales rose 2 percent in China/Asia Pacific region, helped by a 2 percent rise in average ticket. Analysts were expecting it to rise 1.5 percent, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Starbucks also raised its adjusted profit forecast for the year to between $2.75 and $2.79 per share from its previous outlook of between $2.68 and $2.73 per share. Analysts on average were expecting $2.71 per share.

The company said operating margins in the Americas would now be “up slightly” instead of a drop expected earlier due to higher prices, restructuring efforts aimed at reducing costs and lower investments compared with last year.

Net earnings attributable to the company rose to $663.2 million, or 53 cents per share, in the second-quarter ended March 31, from $660.1 million, or 47 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding certain items, the company earned 60 cents, 4 cents more than the estimate.

Total net revenue rose 4.5 percent to $6.31 billion, but was slightly below the estimate of $6.32 billion.

Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal and Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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