Gift-card sales perk up Starbucks’ profits for Oct.-Dec. quarter

SEATTLE Starbucks Corp. reported a 17.7-percent surge in its fiscal 2007 first quarter profit versus a year earlier, on revenues that jumped 21.8 percent to a record $2.36 billion.

Revenues were driven by same-store sales growth of 6 percent for the quarter ended Dec. 31, and the opening of 728 new locations, a record quarterly amount, the company said.

In addition, the dollar amount fixed to Starbucks Card activations jumped 30 percent from a year ago to $287 million, another quarterly record.

For the company’s most recent quarter, Starbucks earned $205 million, or 26 cents per share, versus earnings of $174.2 million, or 22 cents, a year earlier. In the United States, total net revenues jumped about 20 percent to $1.9 billion, the company reported, driven by a same-store sales increase of 6 percent that reflected a 3-percent increase in both the number of transactions and average check per transaction. U.S. operating income increased 9 percent to $325 million for the quarter, the company reported.

Starbucks operates or licenses 13,168 restaurants. It reiterated its unit growth projections and estimated it will open at least 2,400 new stores globally in fiscal 2007, including 1,000 corporate locations and 700 licensed locations in the United States.