Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Less Coffee?

Superbarista to the rescue?
Howard Schultz, Starbucks' chairman and the man responsible for turning it into the world's largest coffee-shop chain, returned as chief executive on Monday and laid out plans for a turnaround.

....Schultz, 54, has not been Starbucks' CEO since 2000, when it had 3,500 stores. Now it has more than 15,000 locations in 43 countries — and competitive threats from such chains as McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts.

Many investors say rapid growth is to blame for Starbucks' foundering financial performance and stock price during the last couple years, and Schultz agreed. He said he also wants to revive innovation and create a stronger bond with customers.

....Schultz said Starbucks will slow its growth and close some stores in the U.S., and accelerate growth in other countries where new stores will be more profitable.

....Starbucks stock shot up after the announcement, which followed the close of regular trading. After climbing 27 cents to $18.38 in regular trading, it leapt $1.65 to $20.03 in after-hours trading.

The research firm Morningstar figures the stock is worth $36. It has traded between $18 and $36.61 over the past year.

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