What happened

Starbucks (SBUX 1.00%) stock outpaced the market by a wide margin last month with its 15% increase compared to a 1.8% uptick in the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The rally put the stock back in significantly positive territory for the year after having been down by more than 10% in early July.

A coffee cup sitting in a pile of coffee beans.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Investors celebrated the coffee chain's fourth-quarter report that ended fiscal 2018 on a positive note. Comparable-store sales met management's targets after falling behind their projections in each of the previous two quarters. Demand tends improved in both the U.S. and China segments, although customer traffic remained negative.

Now what

CEO Kevin Johnson and his team noted in early November that Starbucks improved nearly all of its key operating trends in the fourth quarter as compared to the prior quarter. That success gave the company confidence to project modestly accelerating sales growth for the new fiscal year, with comps landing at around 3% compared to the past year's 2% uptick.

Investors will be closely following the next few quarterly reports, especially the first-quarter announcement that covers the key holiday shopping season, for confirmation that Starbucks' rebound continues to gain momentum.