Seattle Post Intelligencer ...

Starbucks thinks even BIGGER.

excerpted from an article by Todd Bishop

The number of Starbucks locations worldwide could someday rival the total of McDonald's restaurants, based on a new estimate from the coffee company. Seattle-based Starbucks Corp. reported another quarter of strong earnings and upped its long-term target to 25,000 company-owned and licensed locations worldwide, from its previous target of 20,000. He described the company's new 25,000-location target as "a minimum number."

The revised estimate came as the company reported net income of $56.2 million, or 14 cents a share, for its fiscal third quarter. That was an increase of 20 percent over the company's net income of $46.8 million, or 12 cents a share, in the same period last year.

The company credited the strong result in part to the continued success of the Starbucks card, introduced last November. Customers can load the cards with credit to give them as gifts or simplify the process of buying their own coffee.

The amount of money spent through the cards in the third quarter was $41 million, compared with $43 million in the second quarter. However, the company said it activated 1.5 million new cards in the third quarter, compared with 1.2 million in the second. Efforts to add new customers and speed the pace of lines have helped.

"We have seen first-hand the global demand for Starbucks, and the potential is significantly larger than we had originally estimated," said Howard Schultz, the company's chairman and chief global strategist.