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Starbucks profit up on more visits

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Starbucks Corp. (SBUX-Q) posted quarterly profit that topped Wall Street's expectations, as more customers visited the world's biggest coffee chain, and raised its fiscal year forecast above analysts' estimates.

The Seattle-based company Thursday said net income for its fiscal third-quarter ended July 3 was $279.1 million US, or 36 cents per share, compared with $207.9 million, or 27 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, expected a profit of 34 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 12 percent to $2.93 billion, fueled by an 8-percent rise in sales at U.S. cafes open at least 13 months. Analysts' were looking for a rise of 5.3 percent for U.S. cafe same-restaurant sales for the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Starbucks boosted its fiscal year earnings forecast to $1.50-$1.51 per share from $1.46 to $1.48 a share, previously. Analysts, on average, were expecting a fiscal 2011 profit of $1.50 per share.

The company also forecast a 15 percent to 20 percent increase in earnings per share in 2012 and a 10 percent increase in revenue. The forecast is based on mid-single digit comparable store sales growth and the opening of net 800 new stores.

Starbucks targets more affluent consumers than the typical U.S. fast-food chain.

Those customers have fared better than their lower-income counterparts as the U.S. economy sputters, and they have resumed spending on discretionary items like $4 lattes and organic foods-as evidenced by strong same-store sales results from chains like Starbucks, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Whole Foods Market Inc.

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