Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) has been a surprising winner this year, trouncing the market with a 41% gain leading up to the company's fiscal third-quarter earnings release on Thursday afternoon. The stock's gain comes as investors cheer Starbucks' strong revenue and same-store sales growth.

But shares received another greater boost after the company's impressive fiscal third-quarter results, bringing the stock's total return this year to nearly 50%. Strength during the quarter was particularly evident, highlighted by higher-than-expected comp growth and a boost to the coffee specialist's full-year outlook.

A Starbucks store

Image source: Starbucks.

Key takeaways

Starbucks' fiscal third-quarter revenue jumped 11% year over year when adjusted for the impact of activities to streamline operations and foreign exchange fluctuations. This is an acceleration from 9% adjusted revenue growth in both fiscal Q1 and fiscal Q2. Helping explain why investors were impressed with Starbucks' fiscal third-quarter results, revenue for the period was $6.82 billion, ahead of analysts' average forecast for revenue of $6.7 billion.

The company's notable revenue growth in fiscal Q3 was aided by an acceleration of global same-store sales growth. Same-store sales, or sales at stores open 13 months or longer, increased 6%. This compares to 3% growth in fiscal Q2. Analysts, on average, were expecting same-store sales growth of 4%. The metric was bolstered by 7% comp growth in the U.S. and 6% comp growth in China.

Non-GAAP (adjusted) earnings per share rose 26% year over year to $0.78. This figure also beat analysts' consensus estimate for $0.72.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson was pleased with the company's performance, noting in its earnings release that its two long-term growth markets -- the U.S. and China -- "performed extremely well across a number of measures as a result of our focus on enhancing the customer experience, driving new beverage innovation and accelerating the expansion of our digital customer relationships."

Management's improved outlook

With such strong momentum during the quarter, it's not surprising to see management lifting its full-year forecasts.

Starbucks now expects comparable-store sales in 2019 to rise 4% year over year, up from a previous outlook for 3% to 4% growth. In addition, it expects GAAP revenue to grow 7%. This compares to former guidance for 5% to 7% growth.

However, Starbucks reduced its plans for net new store opening and now expects to open about 2,000 net new stores in 2019. It previously was aiming for 2,100 net new stores during the year.

Management said it remains focused on its three priorities of (1) accelerating growth in the U.S. and China, (2) expanding the global reach of the Starbucks brand, and (3) boosting shareholder returns.