Starbucks raises outlook but shares fall

Starbucks Corp reported higher quarterly profit on Thursday that matched Wall Street estimates and it raised its full-year earnings forecast.

The world's biggest coffee chain cited increased sales in the United States, its top market, despite an industry-wide spending downturn in February due to a U.S. payroll tax increase that lowered take-home pay.

Revenue was slightly below analysts' estimates and the company's shares fell 2.5 percent in afterhours trading. They had gained nearly 3 percent in the last five days and nearly 12 percent year to date, fueled by expectations of strong performance

"While there's been some choppiness that others have been reporting out there, I think what's remarkable about our results is the steadiness of our (same-store sales) growth in the U.S. for example," Starbucks Chief Financial Officer Troy Alstead said in an interview.

ITG restaurant analyst Steve West said Starbucks is almost a victim of its own success.

"The expectation bar keeps getting higher and higher until, finally, you can't beat it," he said.

Starbucks said net earnings rose to $390.4 million, or 51 cents per share, in the fiscal second quarter that ended on March 31 from $309.9 million, or 40 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding a 3 cent-per-share gain on the sale of its stake in a Mexican venture, earnings were 48 cents per share, matching analysts' average estimate, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 11 percent to $3.56 billion. Analysts were expecting $3.59 billion.

The company said it expects earnings of $2.12 to $2.18 per share this year, up from a prior target range of $2.06 to $2.15.

Starbucks shares fell to $59 in after hours trading from their close at $60.50.

(Reporting by Martinne Geller in New York and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles. Editing by Andre Grenon)