Updated from Dec. 1 with analysts' comments
Wall Street traders may be scared about what life will be like for Starbucks (SBUX) without Howard Schultz as CEO, but they should chill out a bit.
Schultz, 63, will step down effective April 3, 2017, the global coffee powerhouse said Thursday, just days ahead of its annual meeting with investors.
The visionary leader of Starbucks, who was CEO from 1987 to 2000 and then again from 2008 until now, will assume the role of Executive Chairman of Starbucks, shifting his focus to innovation, design and development of the chain's high-end roastery concept. Taking over as CEO will be current Starbucks President and Chief Operating Officer, long-time board member and Schultz confidant Kevin Johnson.
"Kevin has been a wise and supportive resource for me [through the years]," Schultz told analysts on a conference call, adding that Johnson is "better prepared" to be the CEO of Starbucks going forward given his "skillsets."
Shares of Starbucks fell as much as 3.5% on the news, as investors were likely surprised by the timing of the announcement. But as TheStreet has reported, the news of one of the most influential CEOs in modern business deciding to step away from the day to operations of Starbucks shouldn't be a total shocker.
In effect, Schultz has been preparing investors for this very day by restructuring his management team. And as a result of that careful planning and a rich pipeline of product and technological innovation (as well as a likely wiser with age Schultz), Starbucks is in a much better position relative to when Schultz first left as CEO back in 2000.