Starbucks Corp. (SBUX)Thursday reported a 21 percent rise in quarterly earnings, beating Wall Street analysts' average estimate thanks to strong sales of coffee drinks and a larger number of stores.

Net income for the fiscal fourth quarter ended Oct. 2 rose to $124 million, or 16 cents per share, from $103 million, or 12 cents per share, a year ago. Last year's results are adjusted for a two-for-one split of the coffee shop chain's common stock last month.

Starbucks had forecast earnings of 15 cents a share. Wall Street analysts were also expecting a profit of 15 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Net revenue rose 13 percent to $1.7 billion. Last year's fourth-quarter included an extra week. Excluding that week, sales were up 23 percent, the company said in a statement.

Starbucks expects to earn between 63 cents and 65 cents a share for the year, including stock-based compensation. Wall Street analysts are expecting net income of 65 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Last week, Starbucks adjusted its earnings outlook for the current year to account for a new regulation requiring companies to expense stock-based compensation.

The Seattle-based company said monthly sales at stores open at least a year, a key retail measure, would be up between 3 percent and 7 percent in fiscal 2006, with monthly anomalies.

Net sales are expected to rise about 20 percent for the year.

Starbucks shares were down about 0.9 percent at $30.94 on the Inet electronic brokerage immediately following the announcement. The stock closed at $31.22 Thursday afternoon on Nasdaq.

Starbucks shares are relatively unchanged from the beginning of this year after rising nearly 90 percent in 2004. That compares with a 1.7 percent rise in the Standard & Poor's restaurants index, of which it is a component.

The stock trades at about 41 times analysts' average 2007 earnings estimate, well above the industry average of nearly 18 times earnings.