Starbucks stock takes a 6% spill

Earnings are strong, but weakness in key global markets holds back shares.

By InvestorPlace Apr 27, 2012 10:54AM

By Jeff Reeves

Starbucks (SBUX) reported decent earnings after the bell Thursday, brewing up 18% gains in profit for its fiscal second quarter. The Seattle coffee king also raised its forecast for the year, thanks to the better-than-expected results.

However, the report still left a bitter taste in investors' mouths, and Starbucks stock took a spill of as much as 6% Friday, with weakness in Europe and surrounding regions offsetting decent gains in the Americas and Asia.

For a global coffee giant with an eye on world domination, investors apparently are more concerned with avenues for growth in new markets than they are with Starbucks maintaining its dominance in the U.S. or predictable growth in China.

Specifically, revenue at cafes open at least a year in Europe, the Middle East, Russia and Africa actually declined compared with the previous report. That offset a jump in global revenue of about 7% overall and an 8% rise at Starbucks locations in the Americas.

Anyone who has an Internet connection should know that the sovereign debt crisis in Europe has weighed on many businesses across the Atlantic. We just learned this week that the U.K. economy is in a double-dip recession, as GDP for Britain fell 0.2% in the first three months of 2012. There's also the recent downgrade of Spain's credit rating from Standard & Poor's. It's not all that surprising, then, to see headwinds for Starbucks.

Then there's the geopolitical unrest in the Middle East and Africa, which certainly is a factor.

Starbucks CFO Troy Alstead was quick to remind investors of those factors, saying the coffee company is "not immune" to regional disruptions.

No kidding.

So does this slide mean Starbucks is losing its edge? Hardly. The company posted very good results across the board. As mentioned, earnings jumped 18% to $309.9 million on the quarter vs. $261.6 million last year. That was right in line with expectations. Overall revenue was up almost 15% to $3.2 billion from $2.8 billion in the second quarter of last year.

The problem, then, isn't the results but investor expectations. Starbucks just set a new 52-week high on April 13 after jumping 35% in just more than three months and 70% in the 12 months prior.

As Ethan Roberts explained a few weeks ago on InvestorPlace, Starbucks is an admirable company -- just not after that kind of run-up.

Investors didn't take into account the very obvious troubles overseas and were happily buying Starbucks stock. The recent earnings report, while mostly good, has at least tempered expectations.

There's every reason to expect continued success for Starbucks in the long term. China sales are growing briskly (read more about Starbucks' China strategy), and sales across North and South America are strong. And, yes, Europe eventually will get its act together. But in the short term, the headwinds are clear and investors are not as jubilant as they once were.

That could mean a few months of struggle for Starbucks.

On the plus side, Disney (DIS) will begin rolling out themed Starbucks stores at its parks. That should at least entertain shareholders while they wait for the dust to clear.

Jeff Reeves is the editor of, and the author of “The Frugal Investor’s Guide to Finding Great Stocks.” Write him at editor@investorplace​​.com or follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP. As of this writing, Jeff Reeves did not own a position in any of the investments named here.

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Apr 27, 2012 12:11PM
Starbucks amazes me. We are in a is tight....people are cutting back. Yet my Starbucks has a full parking lot and a line to get their high priced beverages. This is despite the fact that Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds have entered the "coffee wars". One can get any size coffee at my McDonalds for $1...Same size at Starbucks 2 to 3 times that....crazy...just crazy!
Apr 27, 2012 12:24PM
Starbucks pushes their eco-green-artisan-fair trade-range roaming persona while millions of gallons of gasoline are burned every year by idling vehicles in their drive through window lines.

Talk about a carbon footprint that could suffocate you!!!
Apr 27, 2012 1:11PM



They have good coffee and nice stores


MCD's is a dump and has lousy coffee

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