Starbucks "Undervalued": Schultz

Ahead of his departure as Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) executive chairman next week, Howard Schultz told the media the company's stock is "cheap and undervalued."

Shares of the company were up 38 cents to $51.00 in late-morning trade Friday. The stock is down more than 11% this year as Starbucks struggles to recover from weak same-store sales and poor foot traffic.

In the most recent quarter, Starbucks topped same-store sales expectations, but traffic remained flat. The beat had been viewed positively because it followed five straight quarters of misses.

"The stock (which in almost 40 years) I have rarely commented on is cheap and undervalued," Schultz said.

The coffee giant has been working on a number of initiatives to turn around these weak sales, including offering more cold beverages, revamping its rewards program and increasing its marketing efforts to non-Starbucks card holders. The company expects these new digital efforts to contribute 1% to 2% to same-store sales in the Americas in 2019.

"And, for those who have looked at Starbucks whenever there has been a glitch in US comp store sales, and determined the glass is half empty they are respectfully dead wrong," he said.

"With regard to China, it's going to be bigger and more robust than the U.S. ever was, full stop."

Schultz joined Starbucks in 1982 as director of operations and marketing. He led Starbucks' expansion from a single coffee shop that opened in Seattle's Pike Place Market in 1971 into a global giant with more than 28,000 locations.