Starbucks Sees Improving August Sales Trends in China, U.S. Markets

Starbucks' presentation to a JPMorgan gaming and restaurant conference in Las Vegas suggests continued improvement in sales trends for the world's biggest coffee chain.
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Starbucks Corp.  (SBUX) - Get Report said Tuesday that comparable sales in its two largest markets continued to improve in August as the impact of coronavirus lockdowns eased in both the U.S. and China.

In an investor presentation to the JPMorgan Gaming, Lodging, Restaurant & Leisure Forum in Las Vegas, Starbucks said comparable sales for company-owned stores in the U.S. fell 11% in August, compared to last year's levels. That figures, however, if better than both the June and July tallies of -19% and -14% respecitvely.

In China, Starbucks' fastest-growing market, comparable sales were flat to last year in August, following declines of -16% in June and -8% in June and -10% in July.

Starbucks shares were marked 1.6% higher in late Tuesday morning trading and changing hands at $87.99 each following publication of the investor presentation. That move lifts the stock's six-month gain to around 50%.

Starbucks will publish its fiscal fourth quarter earnings on October 29, the company said, with its biannual investor day presentation set for December 9 in New York. 

The world's biggest coffee chain posted a narrower-than-expected third quarter loss in late July and noted recovery trends in key markets such as China and the U.S. following global store closures during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Group revenues were hit hard by store closures at home and abroad during the peak of the pandemic, with sales down 38.4% to $4.2 billion, although that figure topped analysts' estimates of a $4.05 billion tally. Comparable sales were even worse, falling 41% in North America from last year, although sequential improvements from April through June softened that reading for investors and supported shares into the summer months.

In China, the group's key growth market, same-store sales were down 19% from last year, but were again improving sequentially on a month-to-month basis, with a full recovery expected in the first quarter of its 2021 fiscal year, Starbucks said at the time.