During a Las Vegas restaurant and casino industry conference today, Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) made an investor presentation revealing improving trends in both the U.S. and China. While comparable sales, or comps, still suffered year-over-year declines because of COVID-19, TheStreet reports, Starbucks' Chinese business is nearly back to normal -- fresh, piping-hot upbeat news prompting investors to bid the coffee chain's shares up 1.25% by market close.

At the J.P. Morgan Gaming, Lodging, Restaurant & Leisure Forum this morning, Starbucks' executives presented a slide deck showing sequential improvement in U.S. comps during the summer months. Sales were down 19% year over year in June, 14% in July, and 11% in August. The company also listed handheld point-of-service (POS) at drive-throughs, curbside pickups, and the "Stars for Everyone" reward program as "future recovery enablers."

A smiling woman in a black sedan picking up coffee at a drive-through.

Image source: Getty Images.

During the presentation, CFO Patrick Grismer said Starbucks' U.S. "sales recovery is sustained," before stating American metrics are "on track to achieve positive comps by the end of our fiscal second quarter in 2021." He additionally said more than 50% of Starbucks' locations in the United States have at least some in-restaurant seating open again.

Grismer spoke about China also, remarking "our business there is approaching full sales recovery." Information presented in the slides indicates Chinese comps were down 8% in June, at negative 10% in July, and bounced up to 0%, or flat, in August. When two years of comparable sales are used for comparison instead, August's comps in China rose 3%. Positive comps are expected in China by fiscal first quarter 2021's end, a quarter sooner than in the U.S.

Starbucks is still down from its pre-COVID share prices, making it a potential choice for Robinhood investors, among others. 

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