Jan 23 (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp on Thursday reported that sales at established stores in its U.S.-dominated Americas region cooled more than analysts expected in its latest quarter as consumers spent more time holiday shopping online than at physical stores.
The news initially depressed shares in the world's biggest coffee chain. But the stock then rose 0.9 percent to $74.02 as the company raised its fiscal 2014 earnings per share forecast to a range of $2.59 to $2.67, from $2.55 to $2.65 previously.
Expectations had been muted ahead of the release of the results, in part because the Seattle company has been on a growth tear that many analysts said could not go on forever.
"Holiday 2013 was the first in which many traditional brick and mortar retailers experienced in-store foot traffic give way to online shopping in a major way," Starbucks President and Chief Executive Howard Schultz said in a statement.
Net earnings increased 25 percent to $540.7 million, or 71 cents per share, for the fiscal first quarter ended on Dec. 29.
Global sales at Starbucks cafes open at least 13 months were up 5 percent, versus analysts' average estimate for a 5.9 percent rise, according to Consensus Metrix. That figure included a 5 percent increase for the Americas region that contributes the lion's share of Starbucks revenue. Analysts, on average, expected a 6.4 percent rise from the region.
Last fiscal year, Starbucks' Americas region sales at restaurants open at least 13 months were up 8 percent in the fourth quarter and up 9 percent in the third quarter.