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SEATTLE-After closing hundreds of units in the last year, Starbucks Corp. is ready to expand again in 2010, executives said at the company’s third-quarter conference call.

The company now expects to open approximately 55 net new licensed stores in the United States and approximately 310 net new licensed stores internationally this year. Plans for 2010 are still being made, noted Troy Alstead, executive vice president and chief financial officer, and growth will largely be concentrated internationally. In addition, the company is testing a new store design in Seattle, Paris and Tokyo, and has opened a new concept, 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea, which removes the Starbucks logo and sells beer and wine as well, in Seattle.

“We do expect to grow store counts year over year, driven primarily by international, growth, but also in the U.S.,” Alstead said. “Our new store design concepts have been met with strong enthusiasm.”

Since July 2008, the company has closed 676 US stores, 61 stores in Australia and 28 other international units, with final US store closures to be complete by late September and remaining international stores to be closed by mid-fiscal 2010.

For the quarter, net revenues were $2.4 billion, compared to $2.6 billion from the same period last year. Company comparable store sales declined 5%, with US units reporting a 6% drop and international units dropping 2%. Net earnings were $151.5 million, compared to a net loss of $6.7 million in the year-ago quarter.

Year-to-date consolidated revenues are $7.4 billion, compared to $7.9 billion for the first nine months of 2008. Net earnings were $240.8 million, compared to $310.1 million for the same period a year ago.

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