Starbucks CFO Stuns Wall Street With Retirement

The coffee chain's shares dip more than 3% on news that Scott Maw is leaving after just four years as finance chief.
Matthew HellerJune 28, 2018
Starbucks CFO Stuns Wall Street With Retirement

Starbucks shares dropped as much as 4.8% on Thursday after the coffee chain said CFO Scott Maw was retiring after just four years in the job.

The coffee chain gave no explanation for Maw’s departure, which stunned Wall Street analysts. Starbucks beat earnings estimates during the first half of his tenure but as Reuters reports, it has stumbled more recently, with CEO Kevin Johnson earlier this month calling its performance “not acceptable.”

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Scott Maw

“The sudden nature of this announcement and Maw’s relatively young age and tenure in his role suggest the decision (to) leave was perhaps not entirely voluntary,” Bernstein analyst Sara Senatore wrote in a research note.

“While a new CFO may bring greater experience in the types of capital allocation strategies we have advocated, the fundamentals of the business need to at least stabilize and the responsibility for that lies with SBUX’s CEO and COO,” she added.

In trading Thursday, the company’s shares were down 3.6% at $48.02 after falling as low as $47.40.

Starbucks said Maw’s retirement would be effective Nov. 30. He took over as CFO in February 2014 after serving as global controller and senior vice president of corporate finance.

“I am grateful for the contributions Scott has made over the past seven years that led to the unprecedented growth of Starbucks,” Johnson said in a news release. “As we enter our next phase of continued growth, I am confident in the finance team Scott has developed and am appreciative of his willingness to support through the transition into new leadership.”

Starbucks has missed analysts’ estimates for same-store sales in the Americas region in five of the last six quarters. Last week, it forecast slower sales growth than expected for this quarter and said it plans to close about 150 U.S. cafes next fiscal year, triple its normal number of closures.

“We believe the departure of Mr. Maw — who we viewed as a capable leader — will be perceived be as a loss for SBUX in the near and long-term,” Wells Fargo Securities analyst Bonnie Herzog said in a research note.

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