Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) told investors that they can sell their stock in the company and invest somewhere else if they had a problem with its decision to publicly support gay marriage.


Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) is one of the hundreds of companies (around 300) who joined in filing a motion requesting the United States Supreme Court abolish a provision in the Defense Marriage Act that prohibits federal benefits and recognition to gay couples.

During the annual meeting of Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) on Wednesday, Schultz responded to the statement of a shareholder identified as Tom Strobar who stated that the financial performance of the company in the first quarter was disappointing. He suggested that the results were affected, in part by the boycott of the National Organization for Marriage.

According to Strobhar, “In the first full quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and our earrings — shall we say politely — were a bit disappointing.”

Schultz told Strobhar that Starbucks Corporation’s (NASDAQ:SBUX) position on the issue of gay marriage is about “respecting diversity,” and it has nothing to do with the earnings of the company.

“If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much,” said Schultz. After expressing his point, the Starbucks CEO received applause from the shareholders attending annual meeting.

Starbucks Corporation’s (NASDAQ:SBUX) earnings for the first quarter fiscal year increased to $0.57 per share from $0.50 per share and revenue climbed by 10 percent to $3.8 billion from $3.44 billion during the same period a year ago. The coffee company’s financial performance met the expectations of Wall Street analysts.

For the fiscal 2013, Starbucks expected its earnings to come in at $2.06 to $2.15 per share, an increase of 15 to 20 percent. Its revenue is expected to climb by 10 to 13 percent.

Yesterday, Schultz stated during an interview with CNBC that he supports the proposal of President Barack Obama to increase the minimum wage, but carefully. He described the issue on minimum wage as a “double-edged sword” because workers will benefit from higher wages, but it might discourage companies from hiring more people.

“On balance, I am a supporter of the minimum wage going up. We’ve got to be very careful what we wish for because some employers — and there could be a lot of them — will be scared away from hiring new people or creating incremental hours for part-time people as a result of that wage going up,” Schultz said.

President Barack Obama proposed raising the $7.25 per hour minimum wage to $9 per hour in mid-February.