Starbucks to Restate 3 Years of Results

Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) Wednesday said it will restate three years of results to reduce retained earnings through fiscal 2004 by $12.6 million due to errors in the way it accounted for leases.

The coffee shop chain, which said last week it would likely have to restate some past results due to accounting errors, also filed its first-quarter results with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday after a short delay.

Starbucks said last week it needed a five-day extension for the quarterly filing to address concerns raised by the SEC's top accountant in a letter last week to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (search).

In the letter, SEC Chief Accountant Donald Nicolaisen asked for more specifics in companies' financial statements about how they account for property leases following a wave of restatements from restaurant chains.

In the past few months, restaurant companies McDonald's Corp. (MCD), Wendy's International Inc. (WEN), Darden Restaurants Inc. (DRI) and many others have announced changes to the way they account for leases.

Unlike other companies, however, Starbucks made changes to the way it accounts for tenant improvement allowances and rent holidays. At issue for other companies is a mismatch between the periods during which the restaurant operators were depreciating their assets and the length of their leases.

The accounting errors are a rare black mark for Starbucks, whose explosive growth and soaring share price has made it a darling of Wall Street for years.

Still, the Seattle company said the changes would not alter its earnings per share for fiscal 2004 or for the first quarter of fiscal 2005. Starbucks also backed its 2005 earnings target range of $1.15 per share to $1.17 per share, excluding the impact of expensing stock options.

In a statement, Starbucks said it plans to file an amended annual report for fiscal 2004 to reflect the reduction in retained earnings of $12.6 million as of Oct. 3, 2004, Starbucks said.

For rent holidays, the company will reduce beginning retained earnings in fiscal 2002 by $8.6 million and record subsequent immaterial decreases in net income for fiscal years 2002 through 2004, it said.

Starbucks shares fell 12 cents to close at $50.39 Wednesday on Nasdaq.