Starbucks to sell Tazo Tea Brand to Unilever for $348mn

Starbucks will also work to streamline its business that is non-coffee and announced Thursday its plans to sell its Tazo tea brand to European based Unilever for a price of $384 million.

"With our growth strategy for a premium tea exclusively focused on Teavana, we are pleased to transition our Tazo business to Unilever", President and CEO, Starbucks, Kevin Johnson, said in a statement.

The brand also sells liquid concentrates focusing on the Chai tea market segment and produces a number of ready-to-drink bottled teas.

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The coffee company reported fourth-quarter revenue at $5.7 billion, slightly less than the same quarter in 2016, which was $5.71 billion.

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Starbucks, which bought Tazo about 18 years ago for $8.1 million, says it will now focus on its Teavana line.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter, pending regulatory approval, the companies said. The company believes the Teavana business could be worth more than $3 billion in five years, and over the past 12 months the company has sold $1.6 billion worth of Teavana beverages inside its stores. With JPMorgan Chase & Co., the company is also developing credit and debit cards that have rewards built in. On Thursday, the company posted earnings per share of 54 cents for the quarter, in line with analysts' expectations. After excluding the effects of hurricanes Harvey and Irma - which mauled Texas and Florida during the quarter and forced Starbucks to close a total of 1,100 locations - same-store sales growth was 3 per cent.

Excluding some items, profit amounted to 55 United States cents a share last quarter - in line with analysts' forecast.

Starbucks global same store sales were up 2% following a gain of 2% in the amount each customer was spending and an increase of 1% in transactions.

"A balanced conversation of our performance over the past two years acknowledges that we have not consistently delivered against our long-term financial targets", the company said during its earnings call. Net revenue was US$5.7 billion, short of the estimate of US$5.8 billion.

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