In the quarter, Starbucks continued to focus on its cold beverage platform, which includes cold brew, nitro cold brew, refreshers and cold foam, as customers have been craving more iced drinks than hot ones.
It also moved a number of “remedial tasks” that baristas were doing during the day to be done during closing so that they would have more time to work with customers, Brewer told CNBC.
Beverage sales “contributed 3 of the 4 points of comp growth, the strong efforts performance of fiscal year 2018 and given it’s our highest margin category, we’re encouraged by this shift in [comparable store sales] growth,” Roz Brewer, chief operating officer at Starbucks, said during an earnings conference call Thursday.
“You’ll continue to hear us talk about beverage innovation because that’s where we see our greatest push from transaction growth,” she said.
The company’s net income fell 4.1 percent to $755.8 million, or 56 cents a share, during the 13-week fiscal fourth quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with $788.5 million, or 54 cents a share, during the same period last year.
After adjusting for some one-time items, the company earned 62 cents a share while analysts expected 60 cents a share, according to average estimates compiled by Refinitiv.
Starbucks said its loyalty program, which accounts for 14 percent of all its transactions, now has 15.3 million members, a 15 percent jump from last year. Starbucks Rewards members drove nearly 40 percent of sales in the U.S., the company said.
The company is also building an email list and sending promotions to non-rewards members. In the fourth quarter, Starbucks grew the number of registered customers to 10 million, up from 6 million in the third quarter.
“We are just getting to know them, engage them with happy hour deals,” Brewer said. “We hope to convert them into rewards members.”
During the quarter, the company open 604 net new stores and now operates more than 29,000 stores in 78 markets.
The company returned $3.6 billion to shareholders through a combination of dividends and share repurchases.
Also on Thursday, Starbucks announced its 2019 outlook. Here’s what Starbucks expects:
- To add around 2,100 net new Starbucks stores globally
- Same-store sales growth near the lower end of its current 3 to 5 percent range
- Consolidated revenue growth of 5 to 7 percent
- Adjusted earnings per share in the range of $2.61 to $2.66
— CNBC’s Kate Rogers contributed to this report.