Wish Upon a Starbucks

Shares of Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) slipped last night in after-hours trading when the coffee champ reported same-store sales that were more lackluster than usual. Starbucks' same-store sales for September came in at a "mere" 7% increase, as opposed to the heftier same-store gains in the past.

It isn't too surprising that some investors might be skittish. There are lots of people who have been waiting to prove that Starbucks is overvalued and can't sustain heated growth.

Meanwhile, last week Starbucks confirmed a long-awaited price hike. While I and many of my Foolish colleagues don't think a little pocket change would deter Starbucks loyalists, some folks surmise that maybe an average $0.11 more would cause some sort of mass defection to cheaper coffee providers like Allied Domecq's (NYSE: AED  ) Dunkin' Donuts, Krispy Kreme (NYSE: KKD  ) , or McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) , even. (The reaction of many of us is, perish the thought!)

In its press release last night, Starbucks revealed that in September, it grew consolidated net revenues by 23% to $624 million, after adjusting for an additional week this year.

Granted, 7% growth in same-store sales is a less punched-up number than Starbucks has typically been able to produce over recent months. However, much like a recent incident when some investors panicked that maybe Starbucks was about to lose its star power, it bears repeating that Starbucks has always pegged its long-term same-store growth rate in the 3% to 7% range to begin with. Over the last couple months, some investors have gotten some handy little discounts with which to buy shares of the coffee house.

Although Starbucks did say earlier this summer that it expected to exceed the 3% to 7% targeted growth rate for the balance of the year, maybe we should give a little credence to its mention of the 250 Starbucks outlets that had to weather the storms in Florida. Despite the fact that what has become a nearly universal "hurricane excuse" is getting to be a little tired, the reality is that evacuations and officials' strong suggestions that citizens stay indoors, not to mention days of cleanup afterward, don't really sound conducive to Floridians' luxury coffee breaks.

Starbucks shares were down 3% in recent trading. Although news headlines blared of Starbucks' slowing sales last night, to my way of thinking, that sounds more dire than it really is. With a particularly tough hurricane season drawing to a close, and the fact that Starbucks' same-store sales growth remains at the high end of its targeted range, long-term investors likely have little to be concerned about at this moment.

Take a break on our Starbucks discussion board.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.


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