Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) and Dunkin' Brands (NASDAQ:DNKN) are two of the largest owners, operators, and franchisers of quick-serve restaurants in the world, with over 38,000 locations between the two of them. Both companies released their earnings on April 24, so let's break down the reports to determine which had the better quarter and could provide the highest returns for investors going forward.

Breaking down the quarterly results


Source: Starbucks

On April 24, Starbucks released record-setting second-quarter results, but they were mixed in comparison with analysts' expectations; here's a breakdown and a year-over-year comparison:

Earnings Per Share $0.56 $0.56
Revenue $3.87 billion $3.95 billion

Source: Benzinga

  • Earnings per share increased 17%
  • Revenue increased 9.1%
  • Comparable-store sales data by region:
    • The Americas: 6% growth
    • Europe, the Middle East, & Africa: 6% growth
    • China & the Asian Pacific: 7% growth
    • Overall: 6% growth
  • Operating income increased 18.4% to $644.1 million
  • Operating margin expanded 130 basis points to 16.6%
  • Maintained its quarterly dividend of $0.26 per share
  • Opened 335 net new stores, bringing its total count to 20,519 worldwide
Screen Shot

Source: Dunkin' Brands

On the same day of Starbucks' release, April 24, Dunkin' Brands released its first-quarter report and the results missed analysts' expectations; here's a breakdown and a year-over-year comparison:

Earnings Per Share $0.33 $0.36
Revenue $171.90 million $172.66 million

Source: Benzinga

  • Earnings per share increased 13.8%
  • Revenue increased 6.2% 
  • Comparable-store sales data by brand and segment:
    • Dunkin' Donuts U.S.: 1.2% growth
    • Dunkin' Donuts International: 2.4% decrease
    • Baskin-Robbins U.S.: 0.5% growth
    • Baskin-Robbins International: 1.4% growth
  • Operating income increased 7% to $75.6 million
  • Operating margin expanded 30 basis points to 44%
  • Maintained its quarterly dividend of $0.23 per share
  • Opened 96 net new stores, brining its total to 18,254 worldwide

What will the remainder of the year hold?

Screen Shot

Source: Wikimedia Commons

As a result of its strong second quarter, Starbucks reaffirmed its growth projections and raised its earnings per share guidance for the full year of fiscal 2014; here's what the company now expects the year will hold:


Source: Starbucks

  • Earnings per share in the range of $2.62-$2.68, an increase of 15.9%-18.6% from fiscal 2013
  • Revenue growth of 10% or more
  • Global comparable-store sales in the mid-single-digits
  • Operating margin expansion of 175-200 basis points
  • Approximately 1,500 net new stores
Starbucks added that it expects earnings per share of $0.64-$0.66 in the third quarter and $0.71-$0.75 in the fourth quarter. This would result in record earnings for both quarters, and following record-setting first- and second-quarter results, this would equate to the best fiscal year in Starbucks' history. What more could investors ask for?

Dnkn Company Website

Source: Dunkin' Donuts

Even though Dunkin's earnings disappointed, the company reaffirmed its full-year outlook which shows that it does not expect this situation to continue. Here's what Dunkin' expects to accomplish in fiscal 2014:


Source: Dunkin' Donuts

  • Earnings per share in the range of $1.79-$1.83, an increase of 17%-20% from fiscal 2013
  • Revenue growth of 6%-8%
  • Comparable-store sales growth of 3%-4% at Dunkin' Donuts locations in the U.S. and 1%-3% growth at Baskin-Robbins locations in the U.S.
  • Operating income growth of 10%-12%
  • 685-800 new locations globally across its two brands
If these estimates are accurate, they would result in the best fiscal year in Dunkin' Brands' history. With this said, investors will want to remain cautious, because after the weak first quarter the company has little room for error going forward; even the slightest misstep could result in a reduction in guidance, and although the year might still end with a record-setting performance, a bad result might cause investors to run for the hills.


Source: Starbucks

And the winner is...
After reviewing these companies' quarterly results and outlooks on the rest of the year, Starbucks wins this match-up. Both companies showed strong growth in earnings per share and revenue, but the determining factor was comparable-store sales growth, where Starbucks outpaced Dunkin' by a mile.

I believe Starbucks represents one of the best investment opportunities in the market today, as it sits more than 13% below its 52-week high, yields a healthy 1.5%, and trades at favorable multiples on both a current and forward basis; for these reasons, Foolish investors should take a deeper look at it and plan on holding for the long term because this company cannot be stopped.

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Joseph Solitro has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.