SEATTLE - Starbucks Corp. said Thursday its fiscal fourth-quarter profit jumped 35 percent, despite a slight slowdown in store openings and a drop in U.S. traffic.
Shares plummeted in after-hours trading.
The company said it plans to open 100 fewer stores in fiscal 2008 than originally forecast but brushed aside suggestions that it has oversaturated some markets.
Executives promised to sharpen the company’s focus on improving store operations in the U.S., where its rapid expansion, a sagging economy, higher dairy prices and competition from fast-food chains diving into the espresso business have posed challenges.
The company will offer more training to new baristas, give field managers more time in stores and introduce new drinks less frequently, Martin Coles, Starbucks’ chief operating officer, said in a conference call with analysts.
The company also plans a television advertising campaign aimed at luring in new business.
For the 13 weeks ended Sept. 30, the world’s largest chain of coffee houses posted net earnings of $158.5 million, or 21 cents a share, compared with $117.3 million, or 15 cents a share for the same period last year.
Quarterly revenue was $2.44 billion, up from $2 billion last year.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were projecting earnings of 21 cents a share on $2.43 billion in revenue.
Starbucks shares closed down 15 cents at $24.10, then tumbled another $2.01 in extending trading. The stock has fallen more than 40 percent over the past year as the company faced challenges, and economic woes appear to have forced customers to pare back on fancy drinks.
Same-store sales, a key measure of a retailer’s health, increased 4 percent worldwide in the latest quarter, toward the low end of the company’s guidance of 3 percent to 7 percent.
In the United States, sales at stores open at least 13 months rose on a 5 percent increase in transaction value, which partially offset a 1 percent drop in traffic.