Outgoing Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Report CEO Howard Schultz and his successor Kevin Johnson defended the company's performance and its commitment to some controversial social policies at its annual meeting Wednesday.
Although the stock is down about 6% over the past year, Schultz said that analysts and investors who have argued that "the bloom is off the rose" at Starbucks "don't know what they're talking about."
"We've always taken the long view," he said. "Never succumbing to short-term pressures and the mentality of others, but being true to the long-term aspirations of building a great and enduring company."
Building shareholder value is an "absolute" commitment, but Starbucks' commitment to its values will continue, he said, touting increased military, "opportunity youth" and refugee hiring commitments.
Schultz outlined his belief in the importance of building a "performance-driven company through the lens of humanity" with "a responsibility to use our scale for good" at Starbucks' 2014 annual meeting.
"Why are we opening stores in Ferguson, Missouri? Englewood outside of Chicago? Jamaica, Queens?" he asked rhetorically at Wednesday's meeting. Such stores, like the company's commitment to hiring military veterans, youth who are not in school or employed and refugees, evince its values.
Schultz reassured shareholders that Kevin Johnson, currently president and COO, "a servant-leader with a tremendous sense of humanity, compassion and a deep understanding of the human condition," is a worthy and able successor as CEO. Johnson's promotion was announced in December; he starts on April 3.
While Johnson praised Starbucks' ability to foster "human connection," he focused on the company's "innovation pipeline."
"We are also innovators," he said, from beverage to store design to digital, all of which "create customer experiences that are joyful."
Jim Cramer and the AAP team hold a position in Starbucks for their Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells SBUX? Learn more now.
Editors' pick: Originally published March 22.
More Starbucks news on TheStreet: