Starbucks surprises by five cents in Q3, thanks to focus on the basics

While investors and analysts have been highly critical of Starbucks (SBUX) over the past 24 months, sending the stock tumbling to a several-year low, the past few months have been quietly blissful. The stock is up more than 87 percent, to $14.69 at today's close, since November 21, when SBUX hit its longtime low of $7.06. Turns out November would have been a great time to buy.

After the bell today, Starbucks announced mildly stunning results. Analysts' consensus had been earnings of 19 cents a share; after onetime charges, Starbucks's non-GAAP earnings came in at 24 cents a share, or $151.5 million, compared to 16 cents a share in Q3 2008, on revenue of $2.4 billion, compared to $2.6 billion in Q3 2008 and $2.3 billion in Q2 of this year. Comparable store sales were down five percent between Q3 2008 and 2009, which Starbucks says was an improvement over Q2 2009, with a nine percent same-store sales decline. The stock was up to $15.25 in after-hours trading as investors cheered this surprise.