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Why Shares of Starbucks Are Down Again Today

By John Rosevear - Mar 18, 2020 at 1:29PM

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An upbeat shareholder meeting wasn't enough to soothe investors.

What happened

Shares of Starbucks (SBUX -0.60%) were down again on Wednesday afternoon, after the company said that most of its China stores have reopened and that it will step up its share-buyback plans. 

As of 1 p.m. EDT, Starbucks' shares were down about 14.3% from Tuesday's closing price.

So what

CEO Kevin Johnson has reacted swiftly to the coronavirus pandemic, moving stores in the U.S. and Canada to takeout-only operations and expanding sick leave for workers.

3 Starbucks cold-drink cups with logos visible.

Image source: Starbucks.

At the company's annual meeting on Wednesday, held online, he offered additional insights into the company's efforts:

  • A new delivery initiative, in partnership with Uber Technologies' (UBER -0.93%) Uber Eats business, will roll out in 48 states by the end of April. 
  • In China, 90% of Starbucks stores have reopened as the coronavirus has subsided in that country. Johnson also said Starbucks is planning to build a new sustainable roasting plant in China, due to open in 2022. 
  • In addition to new mental-health benefits for employees, announced earlier this week, the company will provide mental-health training for its store managers and regional leaders, beginning this summer.
  • Starbucks' board of directors has authorized the repurchase of up to 40 million shares of the company's stock. That's in addition to 16 million shares of remaining authorization under an earlier plan. 

Now what

It's clear that Starbucks is going to take a heavy revenue hit from the social distancing measures in the U.S. and Canada, just as it did earlier this year in China. But it appears Johnson and his team are making the right moves to ensure that some revenue continues to come in, while keeping employees and customers safe. 

What does that mean for investors? It's hard to say right now.

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