Via helps drive Starbucks Q3 profit

by Eric Schroeder
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SEATTLE — Boosted by the launch of Starbucks Via in U.S. grocery channels, third-quarter earnings at Starbucks Corp. rose 37% to $207.9 million, equal to 27c per share on the common stock, up from $151.5 million, or 20c per share, in the same period a year ago. Net sales in the third quarter ended June 27 totaled $2,612 million, up 9% from $2,403.9 million.

The company said its comparable store sales increased 9% in the third quarter, driven by a 6% increase in traffic and a 3% increase in average ticket. U.S. revenues rose 7% to $1,863 million during the third quarter.

“Starbucks third-quarter results reflect a continuation of the strong performance and momentum we have been driving across our businesses around the world,” said Howard Schultz, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “I’m particularly pleased to report that the significant Q3 increases in store traffic occurred at the same time as we posted the highest levels of customer satisfaction in Starbucks history and despite the challenging global economic environment. Strong performance is enabling us to deliver record results and increase the dividend to shareholders while continuing to innovate and invest in our businesses.

“Supported by the most significant marketing investment in the company’s history, in Q3 we successfully launched Starbucks VIA into the grocery channel in the U.S., announced upcoming launches in the grocery channel in Japan and the U.K., brought innovation to the blended beverage category and reenergized our $2 billion Frappuccino beverage platform by creating real consumer and retailer excitement in this important growth category. Our Q3 investments provide us with a very solid foundation for growth in fiscal 2011 and beyond.”

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