US coffee chain giant Starbucks has reported record profit and sales for the first quarter from October to December.

The Seattle-based company posted profit of US$80m, or 20 cents a share, a 17% rise compared to the same period in the previous year.

Starbucks’ sales were just over $1bn for the quarter, up 25% from $805m for the year-ago period, helped by around 300 new stores. Analysts polled by Thomson First call had forecast earnings of 18 cents a share on revenue of $968.6m.

"This period marked the first $1bn revenue quarter in the company's history," Starbucks chief executive Orin Smith was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. "Based on our strong first-quarter results, we are excited about the prospects for the remainder of fiscal 2003 and beyond."

Starbucks has forecast earnings of around 13 cents a share for the second quarter, and 24% to 26% revenue growth for 2003.