Starbucks Keeps on Percolating

Today is definitely not my day. Last night, I went to sleep knowing that my beloved Red Sox were down two games to none to the White Sox with a performance that I'll politely describe as lacking. This morning, while I was still half-asleep, I stubbed my toe on a doorjamb not once but twice. And to top it all off, a couple of companies I own have revised their guidance downward in the last couple of weeks.

Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection PetSmart (Nasdaq: PETM  ) joined the parade today. Stick a fork in me. I'm done.

But as my editor reminded me, there's still Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) . Through the best and worst of times, the company endures, and this year is no exception. Last year, the company's same-store sales were up 7% year over year in September. Last night, the company announced an even better performance of 10% year-over-year same-store sales growth for September 2005. It's been a long time since Starbucks came in with a same-store sales number that failed at least to match the company's long-term target of 3% to 7% same-store sales growth. In fact, the just-completed FY2005 marks the 14th consecutive year that Starbucks has achieved 5% or greater same-store sales growth. Wow.

In last night's press release, CFO Michael Casey stated that he expects October same-store sales growth to fall back within the company's long-term target range of 3% to 7%. This prediction isn't terribly surprising, given the company's torrid 11% same-store sales increase in October of last year.

For the entire year, Starbucks' same-store sales came in up 8%, and total revenues were up 20% despite the fact that there was one less week in this year's fiscal calendar. Given the company's strong revenue performance and the importance of the effect of incremental sales for any retailer's bottom line, it seems a safe bet that Starbucks earnings will come in on target when it reports fiscal year-end results in November.

There's potential for competition from Caribou Coffee (Nasdaq: CBOU  ) and Peet'sCoffee & Tea (Nasdaq: PEET  ) , but neither has yet proved it can slow Starbucks down. It also seems that hurricanes Rita and Katrina haven't affected Starbucks in any material way, and the rising costs of energy haven't dampened demand for its coffee. It'll be interesting to see whether Starbucks comments on any of these possible influences in its November earnings report.

The only bugaboo with Starbucks remains valuation. Its trailing P/E of 44 is high, but historically normal for the company -- and not completely unreasonable given its forward guidance on earnings and sales. Nevertheless, it's just not cheap enough to entice me to purchase more shares. But with the way things are going for me lately, I may just get that chance to buy it cheaper.

There's more Foolishness percolating here:

PetSmartis aMotley Fool Stock Advisorrecommendation.

NathanParmeleeis confident things will work out just fine in the long run. He owns shares in Starbucks and PetSmart and is happy to own shares in both. Nate has no financial interest in any of the other companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.


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