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Stock Market News: Starbucks Loses Its Buzz; JetBlue Hits Turbulence

Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool

The stock market gained ground on Wednesday morning, as market participants reacted positively to news that geopolitical tensions in Hong Kong might be waning. The Chinese special administration region's leadership backed away from plans to allow for extradition of Hong Kong residents to China for trial. Investors liked the concession to protestors, and as of 11:15 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) was up 173 points to 26,291. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) rose 21 points to 2,927, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC) picked up 70 points to 7,944.

However, some stocks didn't participate in the rally. Coffee king Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) warned that its future might not be as bright as it had initially anticipated, while airline company JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ: JBLU) sank after revealing its latest financial results.

A weak brew for Starbucks earnings

Starbucks saw its shares drop 2% after the coffee-store chain warned that its earnings growth in 2020 might not be as robust as it had initially thought. The company said at an investor-conference presentation that it's unlikely to see 10% growth on its bottom line in 2020.

Starbucks sign hanging from a ceiling.

The reason for the shortfall has to do with Starbucks' efforts to return capital to shareholders. Company executives said that a significant portion of the stock buybacks that it had initially anticipated making in fiscal 2020 got pulled forward into the current fiscal year.

Although share repurchases don't affect net income, they do provide a boost to per-share earnings figures. The impact of the move could be to inflate 2019 earnings growth at the expense of 2020's numbers.

Even with the drop, though, investors can't complain too much. Starbucks stock is still up more than 50% since early January.

JetBlue loses altitude

Meanwhile, JetBlue's stock fell 4% following the airline's move to cut its guidance for the third quarter of 2019. The company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it expects revenue per available seat mile to come in flat to down 2%, compared to the year-ago quarter, which is significantly weaker than the 0.5% to 3.5% growth that it had expected previously.

JetBlue cited several factors in its guidance cut. First, weakness in bookings to Puerto Rico cost the company about 1.25 percentage points of growth in the key metric. Generally weaker demand led to another percentage point of headwinds, and early estimates of the impact on demand from Hurricane Dorian resulted in an additional 0.75 percentage-point reduction.

Amid tough conditions, JetBlue has looked at initiatives to try to boost growth. After exiting the cargo-shipping business several years ago, the airline is now taking a closer look at establishing cargo carriage on certain routes. Thanks to a newly updated fleet, JetBlue has extra shipping capacity it can use for cargo.

Yet airline investors often focus on passenger business metrics, and falling unit revenue figures aren't a good sign for JetBlue. The company will need to keep trying harder to attract passengers in order to keep moving in the right direction over the long run.

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Dan Caplinger owns shares of Starbucks. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Starbucks. The Motley Fool recommends JetBlue Airways. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

This article was originally published on Fool.com