713,000 More Reasons for Starbucks to Worry

In the realm of championship trophies, there's the World Cup, the Stanley Cup, and now the K-Cup.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters' (Nasdaq: GMCR  ) Keurig single-cup brewers -- and the K-Cup portion packs that fuel them -- continue to sell briskly. The company's latest quarter was another winner, with revenue soaring 65% higher, to $222.2 million. Earnings more than doubled, up to $14.4 million, or $0.34 on a per-share basis.

The bean baron's results surpassed analyst expectations, though not by much. After beating Wall Street's profit targets by 22% to 38% during the past four quarters, Green Mountain's showing merely topped the market's guesstimate of $0.33 a share.

The stock did open lower this morning -- as disappointing guidance for the current quarter's bottom line crashed the party -- but the growth story at Green Mountain appears to be completely intact.

Green Mountain moved 463 million K-Cup portion packs during the quarter, 70% more than it shipped a year ago. It put to rest the sequential dip during the third quarter (even though it's important to point out the historical seasonality here, since K-Cup sales have dipped sequentially during the fiscal third quarter in 2007 and 2008 as well). There were 713,000 brewers sold during the quarter, and this is where Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) should be nervous. More people opting for K-Cup java fixes at home or in the office break room mean shorter lines at your local Starbucks.

Sure, Starbucks recently entered the instant coffee market. Starbucks' VIA debut came just days after Green Mountain's quarter came to a close, but Green Mountain's upbeat guidance of 61% to 66% top-line growth during the current quarter indicates that VIA isn't taking a big bite out of the company's business.

Unfortunately for Green Mountain investors, the company sees fiscal first-quarter profit clocking in at $0.11 to $0.15 a share. It earned $0.10 a share a year earlier, before a sizable settlement from Kraft Foods (NYSE: KFT  ) , but analysts were expecting earnings to roughly double.

The silver lining there is that Green Mountain is increasing its guidance for fiscal 2010. It now sees net sales of $1.2 billion to $1.24 billion (up 50% to 55%, versus original expectations of 45% to 50% growth) and $1.75 to $1.85 a share in earnings per share (compared to $1.70 to $1.80 previously, and despite a dilutive -- yet balance-sheet-fortifying -- secondary offering this summer).

K-Cups are the real deal. Jarden's (NYSE: JAH  ) Mr. Coffee and Conair's Cuisinart will be rolling out new coffee makers next year that require K-Cup portion packs. That will be huge for Green Mountain, since it doesn't profit from its own single-cup brewers. It just makes them to begin cashing in on K-Cup sales and royalties.

Peet's (Nasdaq: PEET  ) announced acquisition of Diedrich Coffee (Nasdaq: DDRX  ) last week is all about entering the K-Cup market.

So what's the deal, Mr. Market? Are you so short-sighted that the current quarter's projected profit is more important than the three following quarters that will more than make up the difference?

There aren't other red flags in the report. Accounts receivable and inventory levels are up 67% and 61%, respectively. That may seem high, but it checks out with current sales trends.

As long as Green Mountain's range continues to grow, bears are the ones who will wake up with the caffeinated jolt.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Starbucks is a Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services, free for 30 days. They'll wake you up!

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz can actually walk to three Starbucks stores from his home, but he's still not much of a coffee sipper. He's had a Keurig brewer in his home for two years now. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. 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 (3) | Recommend This Article (3)

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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 November 12, 2009, at 3:30 PM, plange01 wrote:

    settle for one.$4 cups of coffee in a depression!

  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2009, at 4:17 PM, desertjedi wrote:

    463 million K-cups and not a single one recyclable - way to go Green Mountain!

  • Report this Comment On January 01, 2010, at 10:50 AM, ilovekcup wrote:

    just a comment-

    I really love Starbucks it WAS the only coffee I bought or drank until Christmas. My husband bought me the

    Keurig. I honestly have not made a Starbucks pot of coffee since. I've only used my Keurig. Its awesome!

    Starbucks needs to make K- Cups. That would be the only kind I buy if they made them. We went through at least two 20 oz. value bags a week.

    I guess Starbucks will be getting less purchases from me, for now.

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