Starbucks' recovery, solid in China, still slow in the US

A Starbucks coffee truck continues to serve students and staff in an otherwise nearly deserted Red Square on the University of Washington campus Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, in Seattle. Starbucks recovery slowed at the end of last year as U.S. coronavirus cases mounted, but the coffee titan says its confident its U.S. business will fully recover by March. The Seattle-based company said Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021 that its global sales at stores opened at least a year fell 5% in the October-December period. That was an improvement from the prior quarter, but it was still a bigger decline than the 4% drop Wall Street was expecting, according to analysts polled by FactSet. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
A Starbucks coffee truck continues to serve students and staff in an otherwise nearly deserted Red Square on the University of Washington campus Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, in Seattle. Starbucks recovery slowed at the end of last year as U.S. coronavirus cases mounted, but the coffee titan says its confident its U.S. business will fully recover by March. The Seattle-based company said Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021 that its global sales at stores opened at least a year fell 5% in the October-December period. That was an improvement from the prior quarter, but it was still a bigger decline than the 4% drop Wall Street was expecting, according to analysts polled by FactSet. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Starbucks’ recovery slowed at the end of last year as U.S. coronavirus cases mounted, but the coffee titan says it’s confident its U.S. business will fully recover by March.

“I am optimistic, because this year holds tremendous promise for healing," Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a conference call with analysts Tuesday.

The Seattle-based company said its global sales at stores opened at least a year fell 5% in the October-December period. That was an improvement from the prior quarter, but it was still a bigger decline than the 4% drop Wall Street was expecting, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

Starbucks also fell short of revenue forecasts. The company reported sales of $6.75 billion in its fiscal first quarter, below the $6.9 billion than analysts forecast.

Not counting one-time items, Starbucks said it earned 61 cents per share in the October-December period. That was ahead of Wall Street's forecast of 55 cents.

Shares in Starbucks Corp. slipped about 1% in after-hours trading.

Starbucks said its business in China, its second-largest market after the U.S., has largely recovered, with same-store sales up 5% in the first quarter. Starbucks said it’s seeing fewer customers in China, but they’re spending more when they visit.

The company opened almost 160 stores in China during the first quarter, for a total of more than 4,800.