Starbucks ( SBUX) posted an 18% jump in first-quarter earnings, meeting Wall Street's expectations. For the period ended Dec. 31, the Seattle-based coffee retailer earned $205 million, or 26 cents a share, up from $174.2 million, or 22 cents a share, a year earlier. The earnings matched analysts' average estimate, according to Thomson Financial. Revenue climbed 22% to $2.36 billion from $1.93 billion. Wall Street anticipated a top line of $2.35 billion. Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, grew 6%. The company said the increase in comp sales was due to a 4% increase in the number of customer transactions and a 2% increase in the average value per transaction. Starbucks' "strong revenue and comparable store sales growth this quarter clearly demonstrate the fundamental strength of our business. The record number of store openings during the period puts our aggressive 2007 store opening target well within reach," Jim Donald, Starbucks' president and CEO, said in a statement. Starbucks said it plans to open at least 2,400 new stores worldwide in fiscal 2007. In the U.S., Starbucks plans to open about 1,000 company-operated locations and 700 licensed locations
The company is targeting total net revenue growth of about 20% for the full year and same-store sales growth remains in the target range of 3% to 7%. Starbucks continues to project earnings of 87 cents to 89 cents a share for the year. Shares were adding 75 cents, or 2.2%, to $35.69 in after-hours trading.