Starbucks closing 150 underperforming stores in 2019

The Starbucks Roastery in Shanghai China

The Starbucks Roastery in Shanghai China

Starbucks says it will speed up its store closings in the USA next year as it tries to boost sluggish sales.

Stifel pulled its target price down slightly, to $55, just a bit above current levels.

Starbucks shares slipped almost 2 percent in after-hours trading. The company's stock is now down about 7% in 2018, well off the S&P 500.

"We must move faster to address the more rapidly changing preferences and needs of our customers."Our recent performance does not reflect the potential of our exceptional brand and is not acceptable", CEO Kevin Johnson said in a statement".

The changes came weeks after Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz announced he would leave the role in June.

Starbucks said it expects global comparable store sales to rise 1 percent in the third quarter, below the 3 percent increase estimated by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

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Starbucks shares slipped almost 2 percent in after-hours trading. In addition to the lost sales on that day and the costs of the training, Starbucks delayed its seasonal marketing push, which it would have begun in mid-April.

Starbucks says it can attract more diners in the USA with new menu items and will focus on its expanding tea business, as well as capitalizing on health and wellness trends. U.S.net store growth peaked at 6 percent in Starbucks' 2017 fiscal year.

The Seattle-based company said it will close about 150 stores in fiscal 2019 in its most densely penetrated markets, 100 more than its historical average.

The coffee behemoth is retrenching in its home market as it contends with sales growth that Chief Executive Officer Kevin Johnson acknowledges isn't fast enough.

Johnson said Starbucks has not reached saturation point in the US, but it will be more strategic about where it puts new stores, focusing on underpenetrated markets in "Middle America".

Starbucks says it will also add more teas to its menu and plans on "capitalizing on health and wellness trends" Bloomberg notes.

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