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

A Starbucks coffee truck continues to serve students and staff in an otherwise nearly deserted Red Square on the University of Washington campus on Jan. 25, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

(AP) -- 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.

    The Seattle-based company said Tuesday 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.

    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.

    Without 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.

    Starbucks shares slipped about 1% in after-hours trading.

    Starbucks said its business in China, its second-largest market after the U.S., has fully 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.

    But in the U.S., same-store sales were down 5% for the quarter despite the holiday drinks that usually draw customers. Store closures and reduced store hours hurt traffic, as did a surge in coronavirus cases.

    Still, Starbucks said it's confident U.S. same-store sales will rise between 5% and 10% in its fiscal second quarter as the pandemic's impact continues to fade.

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