“Starbucks Corp posted its first quarterly rise in U.S. same-store sales in two years, signaling that recession-weary consumers are spending more on small, daily luxuries. Shares in the company, which also raised its 2010 earnings forecast after fiscal first-quarter profits topped Wall Street expectations, rose nearly 3 percent in extended trade. The coffee chain’s latest financial report pointed to a return to growth in the company’s crucial U.S. market. Sales at U.S. restaurants open at least 12 months rose 4 percent during the quarter ended December 27, boosted by the company’s new Via instant coffee, holiday drinks and select price increases. The last time Starbucks posted a gain in U.S. same-store sales was the fiscal fourth quarter ended September 2007. Chief Financial Officer Troy Alstead told Reuters the same-store sales improvement was both broad-based and sustainable. ‘It still is a luxury you can afford. You’re not giving up your retirement to be able to enjoy that great experience every morning,’ he said of the $3 and $4 espresso drinks that are the backbone of the Starbucks’ business.”
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