Starbucks lifts annual forecasts as coffee drinkers shake off pandemic stress

April 27 (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp raised its annual forecast for revenue and profit on Tuesday in expectation that coffee drinkers will return to their pre-pandemic habits as more consumers get vaccinated.

After brewing their own beans at home for over a year, Americans are back at restaurants to pick up their breakfast and coffee, encouraged by easing COVID-19 restrictions, relief checks and rapid vaccinations.

The company now expects 2021 revenue to be between $28.5 billion and $29.3 billion, up from its prior projection of $28 billion and $29 billion. It expects adjusted earnings per share between $2.90 and $3, compared with $2.70 and $2.90.

Analysts have forecast revenue of $28.61 billion and earnings of $2.85 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

However, weakness in international markets continue to hamper the coffee chain’s comparable sales to surpass market expectations.

Global same-store sales rose 15% in the second quarter, its best since the pandemic disrupted the restaurant industry, but were below the expectation of 16.8%.

Starbucks said sales at its biggest growth market, China, nearly doubled from the same period a year ago when its stores in the country remained shut due to the health crisis.

The surge, however, was not enough for its markets abroad to beat Wall Street expectations. They rose 35% in the company’s international markets, but missed expectation of 48.25% growth.

In the Americas region, comparable sales rose 9%, powered by a recovery in the United States, thanks to vaccinated consumers returning to stores or ordering their daily cup of coffee online. (Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)