Enough, Already! Starbucks' Results Weren't That Bad.

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The past week of trading has been brutal for Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) shareholders. If you review the headlines, it's not hard to see why: "Starbucks Misses Estimates," and "Shares of Starbucks Drop on Q3 Earnings Disappointment," and other such nonsense. If that's as far as you went, sure, the 13% decline in value since the "news" would make sense, but it's hogwash. Not only did Starbucks have a sound quarter, but expectations for the balance of 2012 and into next year should also have investors salivating.

The "expected" results
So how bad was it? Turns out analysts had expected earnings in the $0.45-per-share range. Starbucks management had also given investors guidance for Q3 of $0.44 to $0.45. As per the analysts, the reasons for the "miss" were twofold: Consumer growth wasn't what Starbucks management had hoped for, and the global economic situation (the same reality that's affecting virtually every company in the world) hit the bottom line.

But the $0.43 a share Starbucks did earn in fiscal Q3 was a huge jump -- oops, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's keep to the ridiculousness for a bit longer and compare actual results with those vaunted "analyst expectations."

To make matters worse for shareholders, and give Starbucks' bears validation for their selling, management followed up the earnings news by stating the next quarter will end with earnings of $0.44 to $0.45 a share. That's down from the $0.46 to $0.47 management had predicted.

The reality
Now that the results that analysts and investors were so distraught over are out of the way, let's take a stroll down reality lane. The $0.43 a share in Q3 was a 19% increase from the $0.36 a share it earned last year. When did a 19% jump in earnings become a "disappointment?" July 26, apparently.

Here are a few more numbers that should squelch the Starbucks bear bonanza: Net revenues for the quarter jumped 13%, and same-store sales (for shops open at least 13 months) improved 6% around the world. Same-store results were even better here in the States, rising 7%.

Many investors review operating income to determine the viability of an investment, and rightfully so. Apparently income-loving investors didn't read Starbucks' Q3 report. How can you tell? Because a 22% increase in operating income quarter-over-quarter -- not to mention a 1.2% improvement in operating margins -- should have had the market at large cheering. Instead? Starbucks has fallen well below its $52.40-per-share price from July 26.

Oh, and that drop in guidance for Q4 of 2012 to a mere $0.44 to $0.45 a share? That's a 20% jump (give or take a percent) over the same quarter last year. Wouldn't it be nice if every publically traded company would provide "downward guidance" of a 20% gain in earnings? The earnings improvement will come on an expected quarterly revenue rise of 10% to 12%.

As for fiscal 2013, which begins later this year, shareholders can expect much of the same. For the year, Starbucks is forecasting top-line growth of 10% to 13%, major improvements in new stores for both the U.S. and China, and an earnings increase of 15% to 20%.

More good news for Starbucks investors is the (expected) easing of commodity pressures in Q4, and throughout 2013. Lower overhead costs for dairy and other commodities could add as much as $100 million to the bottom line next year, according to Starbucks management.

From here
For sheer size, no one comes close to Starbucks' $35.6 billion market cap. The closest pure rivals -- Peet's Coffee (Nasdaq: PEET  ) and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Nasdaq: GMCR  ) -- sit at $1 billion and $2.8 billion, respectively. Peet's trailing P/E of 64.4 is off the charts following its acquisition announcement relative to Starbucks' 26 times earnings, though Green Mountain's 8.8 P/E looks good by comparison. The differences between the companies are evident when you look at how well management invests its assets. Starbucks' return on assets and equity are two to three times that of their smaller rivals, partially driven by what the company calls its Channel Development (CD) unit.

The CD line of revenue is derived from sales like grocery-store revenues, Tazo Tea, food-service operations, and the like. And the unit is growing by leaps and bounds, up 45% last quarter versus Q3 of 2011, to $316 million in revenue. The CD business has clearly started adding significantly to both the top and bottom lines.

Move past the headlines, Starbucks fans. What you'll find is a company that has been woefully oversold, providing a significant opportunity to buy into levels not seen for some time. And with a forward P/E of only 21, improving margins, and serious growth planned around the globe, Starbucks has once again become a buy.

Starbucks isn't the only consumer-goods investment option, of course -- it's just one of the better options right now. If fallen growth stocks are your type, be sure to check out our brand-new premium report on Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Inside, you'll learn about some key opportunities and risks facing the company, such as the expiration of key patents and the company's strategy to overcome that headwind. You'll also receive a full year of updates to go with the report, so make sure you learn more.

Fool contributor Tim Brugger currently holds no securities positions, including any mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Starbucks. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Starbucks and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, writing covered calls on Starbucks, and creating a lurking gator position in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (6)

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 August 01, 2012, at 1:06 PM, c0ffeen0te wrote:

    So the market is wrong and you are right -- dangerous advice to investors. BTW if you look at PE and not economic value to free cash flow,. you completely miss the cash required to build new stores...6 months ago when I (prematurely) felt sbux was overvalued at 50, PE was 31 but EV/FCF was 44.

    My take on why the price drop may be justified

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2012, at 10:48 AM, zarks1 wrote:

    it's gonna pay a great dividend in 5 years for us long term investors.

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