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Starbucks says "ta ta" to Tazo tea brand

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 11/2/2017 Zlati Meyer

Video by CNBC

Starbucks is selling its Tazo tea brand to Unilever for $384 million.

The company said it plans to focus its tea efforts on its Teavana brand, though it's closing its mall-based Teavana stores.

“Over the past five years, we have established Teavana as our primary global brand focused on the premium tea segment,” CEO Kevin Johnson said. “We continue to see significant growth in our tea business through our Teavana brand and this transition supports our strategy to elevate the premium tea experience for our customers.”

Starbucks paid $8.1 million for Tazo in 1999, five years after it was founded. Sold mostly at supermarkets, bib-box and convenience stores, its line-up includes packaged teas, K-Cup pods, and ready-to-drink bottles.

The Seattle-based coffee giant made the announcement moments before it released its fourth-quarter earnings Thursday.

Starbucks total net income slipped 1.6% to $789 million, or 54 cents a share, on total net revenue of $5.7 billion for the three months ended Oct. 1.

Starbucks missed analysts' revenue expectations for the quarter. Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S had expected revenue of $5.8 billion and earnings per share of 55 cents.

More: 'Give Good': Starbucks holiday cup comes with color-it-in-yourself message

The chain's fourth quarter in 2016 included an extra week, so comparisons between this year and last week will be a little off, the company said.

During the fourth quarter, Starbucks opened 603 net new stores around the world. The chain now has more than 27,000 locations in 75 countries.

The chain has generated a lot of buzz in recent weeks with the return of its iconic seasonal drink, the Pumpkin Spice Latte, along with the introduction of another autumn beverage, the Maple Pecan Latte and the introduction of the Zombie Frappuccino. That drink was available for the six days leading up to and including Halloween.

On Wednesday, Starbucks again grabbed international attention by unveiling its 2017 holiday cup.

Starbucks stock closed Thursday at $54.87, down 26 cents, or 0.47%.

Follow USA Today reporter Zlati Meyer on Twitter: @ZlatiMeyer



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