Improved U.S. holiday sales helped Starbucks Corp. achieve better-than-expected results in its fiscal first quarter. Dee-Ann Durbin of the Associated Press had the news: After a disappointing holiday in 2017, Starbucks made some changes. This past year, holiday drinks went on sale earlier and the company removed some merchandise from the lobby to make a clearer path to gift cards. It worked. Starbucks Chief Operating Officer Roz Brewer said gift card sales — which were down last year — jumped 12…