SBUX – Starbucks Stock Bounces Back, But Should You Buy?

by Ethan Roberts | January 24, 2014 9:12 am

The profits just keep brewing for Starbucks (SBUX[1]) and, as result, SBUX stock … for the most part.

Source: Flickr[2]

Starbucks earnings were released after the closing bell yesterday. While shares of SBUX stock initially fell more than 2% on the release, they bounced back to be up over 1% in today’s pre-market trading.

Let’s take a look at the Starbucks earnings details … and at how SBUX stock looks going forward.

Mixed Earnings Bounce Around Starbucks Stock

The retailer of specialty coffee said first-quarter EPS rose 25% to 71 cents — a new record for Q1. The results also beat the expectations of SBUX stock analysts, who had slated earnings of 69 cents per share.

Troy Alstead, Starbucks CFO had this to say about the Starbucks earnings: “Starbucks strong Q1 results once again demonstrate the fundamental strength of the Starbucks business, particularly noteworthy given the continued economic challenges worldwide.”

So why were SBUX stock investors bearish at first?

Likely because not all metrics in the earnings reported topped expectations. Sure, strong holiday sales sent revenue to a record $4.24 billion, but that was a bit shy of the $4.29 billion analysts had on tap for SBUX.  

Another reason Starbucks stock investors were skittish yesterday: Same-store sales at Starbucks were up 5% both in the U.S. and globally, which also fell short of the 5.9% that Starbucks stock analysts had predicted. On top of that, it was below the 7% to 9% levels seen in previous quarters within the last year.

Starbucks addressed the slowing growth in the earnings release by noting that the 2013 holiday season saw a seismic shift to online purchasing that kept consumers away from the brick-and-mortar mall stores, and thus from many of the Starbucks outlets. However, consumers continued to utilize the Starbucks website for small holiday gifts.

Other details also helped ease the pain of the revenue miss … and thus helped SBUX stock reverse course. A few of them: Starbucks opened 417 net new stores globally, bringing the total store count to 20,184. Sales were particularly strong in China and the Asian/Pacific regions, up some 25% year-over year. And for the cherry on top, consolidated operating margin expanded to a record 19.2%.

Forward guidance was also mixed, though. Yes, Starbucks reaffirmed its full-year growth targets. But while an EPS range of $2.59 to $2.67 was right in-line with analysts hopes, the Q2 EPS range of 54 cents to 55 cents fell short of analyst targets.

So … What’s Next for SBUX Stock?

As the accompanying chart shows, SBUX stock has recently come off its highs above $82. SBUX closed on Thursday at $73.39. That was after an intraday low of $71.68, which flirted with the 200-day moving average of $71.60 for Starbucks stock.

I think it’s notable that after the initial knee-jerk reaction sent SBUX stock lower, it has reversed course to be higher in pre-market trading. Starbucks stock has been hammered down recently, and the Street seems to feel that the value is still there for SBUX at its current price of $73.39.


Other details potential Starbucks stock investors should note: Since 2010, the quarterly dividend payment has risen consistently, yet due to the increase in the Starbucks stock price, the yield remains around  just 1.4% today. Still, the total debt/equity ratio remains a comfortable 28%, so future increases in the dividend are to be expected. That’s definitely another bullet point for the SBUX stock bull case.

Plus, the P/E ratio for Starbucks stock has actually been dropping over recent quarters, and the forward P/E is now at 23. That’s promising, as is the fact that margin expansion was fairly strong. SBUX has also been helped recently by cost-cutting measures and lower commodity prices. Coffee is currently at multi-year lows.

So all in all, Starbucks stock investors have been somewhat forgiving of a mixed quarter … and I understand why. However, the slowing growth bears watching for holders of SBUX stock. Shares of Starbucks stock should continue to put on a decent if not spectacular performance going forward … unless we see a real downturn in the economy.

If that happens, the slow growth could only get worse … and SBUX stock could be in big trouble.

As of this writing, Ethan Roberts did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

  1. SBUX:
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