Starbucks? Horrible?

I guess I'm not the only one wondering whether Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) will have a tough road back.

An MSNBC poll, conducted after last week's announcement of store closures and layoffs, has brought out the worst in java junkies. As unscientific as a cyberspace pulse-check may be, the results aren't very encouraging. With nearly 27,000 respondents as of last night, here's how the poll lined up.

How often do you go to Starbucks?

Never, since my budget doesn't allow for $4 cups of coffee

35%

Once a week

23%

Never, since their coffee is horrible

21%

Once a day

10%

As often as possible

10%

I'm on my laptop there now

1%

Source: MSNBC poll.

The poll could have been structured better. 56% of the voters combine to say that they never go into Starbucks, but it doesn't indicate whether they used to live la vida Starbucks. That would have been an important distinction in gauging the concept's popularity beyond its recent drop in sales at the unit level. All we can truly draw from this poll is that there are plenty of people out to kick Starbucks when it's down.

I felt I was in a thinner herd when I wondered why my fellow Fools were cool with the premium bean brewer closing 600 stores and eliminating roughly 12,000 jobs. I guess I'm not the only one feeling the barista blues.

It happens. Cool brands fade, especially when it comes to filling the bellies of consumers. Panera (Nasdaq: PNRA  ) , California Pizza Kitchen (Nasdaq: CPKI  ) , P.F. Chang's (Nasdaq: PFCB  ) , and Cheesecake Factory (Nasdaq: CAKE  ) all seemed like unstoppable brands a year or two ago. As great as Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG  ) (NYSE: CMG-B  ) is today, there will come a time when the hot burrito roller follows companies like Starbucks and Cheesecake Factory, which had years of positive comps before succumbing to gravity.

As someone who recommended Chipotle to Rule Breakers subscribers early in its growth cycle, I hope I'm humble enough to accept gravity when it comes a-knocking. Right now, Starbucks investors may want to start doing the same.

How do you feel about Starbucks as a long-term investment?

Panera Bread is a Motley Fool Hiden Gems Pay Dirt selection. Chipotle Mexican Grill is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick and a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Starbucks is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick and a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation The Fool owns shares of Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz can actually walk to three Starbucks from his home, but he's still not much of a coffee sipper. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story, save for Cheesecake Factory. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (8)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2008, at 2:47 PM, Stocklovr wrote:

    "...all seemed like unstoppable brands a year or two ago."

    Yeah, what happened a year ago? Consumer slowdown? Heading to a possible recession?

    Everybody acts like this company just lost it's mojo. I think that's a load of crapola.

    Would we even be seeing this kind of "analysis" if the economy was booming and the consumer wasn't feeling the pain of high gas and food prices?

    I don't think so. I also don't think this will last forever. Wasn't there a time when just everyone thought Mickey D's was done? Where is that today?

    Maybe I'm wrong. The economy will never recover. The consumer will never feel flush with cash. We'll all resort to drinking coffee at Denny's because somebody took a poll. If the consumer dosen't come back, then it won't matter which stock you buy!

    Please... give me a break!

  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2008, at 5:09 PM, sherryfoster wrote:

    Shhh.... I made a lot of money on the death of Mickey D's....I am still in buy in faze for Starbucks.....

    Sherry

  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2008, at 5:55 PM, flortop wrote:

    I go to starbucks very often and have never paid $4.00 for a cup of coffee. Pure black coffee is the best. Starbuck never keeps me awake all night like dunkin, mac or hillsbrothers. I get tired of people sayhng they can't afford four dollars for a cup of coffee. Are we exaggerating? Wow had to look that word up.

  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2008, at 10:20 PM, luscious25 wrote:

    i love starbucks for my coffee i have class first thing in the morning and wouldn't be able to survive without my 5.48 drink (triple soy white mocha grande). as an investor im not so hot on starbucks. i live in seattle and starbucks is every where which is great for the consumer you just take a step and theres at least two or three starbucks in view. it has been past time for starbucks to cut down on their stores they were moving way too fast and are not being innovative enough to bring in new business once the novelty wears off they have to bring something new. like vegan/vegetarian options something that sets them apart from all the other coffee shops. at this point im watching i want to see how starbucks is going to turn their losing business around.

  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2008, at 11:24 PM, aloha95205 wrote:

    why do folks keep saying it costs $4 for a cup of coffee at starbucks? the only way your coffee could come to $4 is if you order a large (AKA venti) with 4 shots of espresso added to your black coffee...in that case why not get a large americano for $2.50...i work at Starbucks and the economy has hurt our store. i am a shift supervisor and used to be scheduled 27-35 hours..now i am down to 22 hours per week. BUT i am lucky to be working. i just think media and folks should do a little research before complaining about a $4 cup of coffee - which doesnt exist..thanks

  • Report this Comment On July 09, 2008, at 2:32 PM, SCdujour wrote:

    Just wanted to point out that according to the survey, only 21% of respondents dislike Starbuck's coffee. The other 79% are either active patrons, or would be if the economy were better. Enough said?!

  • Report this Comment On July 11, 2008, at 3:18 AM, dividendgrowth wrote:

    Another dumb article.

    At 40, every analyst was praising and worshiping SBUX.

    At 14, every analyst is hating and cursing SBUX.

    No wonder most investors can't make money.

    If you bother to check Rick's CAPS score, you will know better how to view his articles.

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