Slow Roast at Green Mountain

GreenMountainCoffee Roasters (Nasdaq: GMCR  ) may have made a best corporate citizens list recently, but I'll bet a flattish second-quarter profit wasn't what investors hoped for. Still, some elements of this company might perk up investors' interest.

Second-quarter net income was virtually flat at $2 million, or $0.25 per share. Green Mountain's stake in Keurig resulted in a non-cash loss of $0.04 per share, and the quarter also included $0.04 per share in expenses related to new accounting rules for stock-based compensation. (With these considerations excluded, the company said its profit increased by 23%, and the company did beat analysts' quarterly expectations.) On the other hand, Green Mountain's sales jumped 27% to $47 million. Gross profit margin increased to 36% from 35%, although operating margin decreased to 8.4% from 9.2%.

It may be tempting to compare Green Mountain to other coffee purveyors such as Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) , Peet's (Nasdaq: PEET  ) , and Caribou (Nasdaq: CBOU  ) , but there's one significant difference. Instead of a retail-centric, coffeehouse strategy, Green Mountain provides its coffee not only to consumers but also directly to convenience stores, restaurants, grocers, and of course, offices.

Speaking of its multichannel approach, Green Mountain has some very strong partners. It recently signed on Target (Nasdaq: TGT  ) and Wal-Mart's (NYSE: WMT  ) Sam's Club to distribute its beans. Meanwhile, McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) has made headlines for its own foray into gourmet coffee; as it turns out, in its Northeast restaurants, it's providing organic coffee from Green Mountain, co-branded with Newman's Own.

Speaking of its organic and Fair Trade coffee, Green Mountain noted a 60% increase in shipments in that segment, which benefited all of its sales channels (with McDonald's a major growth driver there). Green Mountain seeks to balance profits and social responsibility, which may make its products appealing to certain consumers. On the other hand, its Fair Trade coffee is also lower-margin than Green Mountain's other blends.

Though I do find the business interesting, I can't help being a little leery. Green Mountain lowered its guidance for this year by $0.05, although it did lift its financial guidance for 2007. Given Green Mountain's expectation of a slow year ahead -- and the heavy-duty competition it faces -- I'd say there's ample time for interested investors to watch and wait.

For related headlines, see the following Foolish articles:

Starbucks is aMotley Fool Stock Advisorselection. To see what other great stocks David and Tom Gardner have percolating in their market-beating portfolio, try a free 30-day guest pass.

Alyce Lomax owns shares of Starbucks. The Fool's disclosure policy prefers a venti half-caf with a shot of hazelnut syrup.


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