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I'm reposting the full story since it's so short, but visit the link to hear the audio:

Guess this must be the Invisible Hand of the Free Market at work, huh?

Schultz defends Starbucks' support of same-sex marriage

The CEO of Starbucks defended his support of same-sex marriage at the company’s annual meeting in Seattle. Starbucks came out in favor last year of Washington’s referendum legalizing same-sex marriage. Opponents of that measure vowed to make Starbuck’s pay, and the National Organization for Marriage launched a boycott of Starbucks.

At the company’s annual meeting Wednesday, shareholder Tom Strobhar suggested that the boycott had indeed bled the company of value.

“In the first fill quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and our earrings — shall we say politely — were a bit disappointing,” he said.

CEO Howard Schultz shot back that the decision to back gay marriage was not about the bottom line, but about respecting diversity. He said the company had delivered a healthy return last year, boycott or no.

“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,” he said, to loud applause from the audience.

The comment came shortly after shareholders voted down a proposal to prevent the company from making political contributions. Board members said they wanted the flexibility to promote the company’s policy agenda.

I should note that I debated quite a bit about whether to refer to the shareholder as a bigot or not, since the wording of his gripe seems to refer more to the impact on company earnings than on any personal opposition towards marriage equality. I suppose if Starbucks had tanked last year he might have a purely financial gripe (still wrongheaded, but understandable in a money-talks sort of way), but given that the guy did get a 38% increase in his investment, it sounds pretty personal to me.

Kudos to Mr. Schultz.

Update: Just to be sure, I double-checked Starbucks 2012 financial report and sure enough...

Record revenues of $13.3 billion and record earnings per share of $1.79 in fiscal 2012,

38% total shareholder return in 2012, following a 46% return in 2011 and a 32% return in 2010,

14% revenue growth in 2012, capping off the eleventh consecutive quarter of 5%+ global comp store sales growth,

18% earnings per share growth in 2012 despite significant commodity headwinds, and
Continued outperformance of key industry financial performance metrics, record cash flow of $1.8 billion, record returns on invested capital of 22.4% and over $1.1 billion returned to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases in 2012.

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