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Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Nasdaq: GMCR ) apparently alleviated investors' fears with its first-quarter financial results, given the stock's spike today. However, prudent investors may want to regard Green Mountain shares with a healthy fear of heights.
Green Mountain's net income fell 78%, to $2.2 million, or $0.02 per share; that figure includes costs related to its Van Houtte transaction, as well as legal and accounting-related expenses related to its recent SEC inquiry. Excluding those costs, Green Mountain's net income came in at $26.1 million.
If investors are feeling more bullish on Green Mountain, it probably owes to the company's 67% revenue increase, to $575 million, and the way it surpassed Wall Street estimates. Green Mountain's Keurig single-cup brewer and its K-Cups helped the company generate robust holiday sales.
Nonetheless, I remain leery of Green Mountain as an investment right now. It has traditionally traded at high valuations, and that's still the case. It sports a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 23, outpacing multiples paid for rivals like Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX ) and Caribou (Nasdaq: CBOU ) , which trade at forward P/E ratios of 18 and 16, respectively.
Green Mountain's historically acquisitive nature makes its financial statements very complicated reading. Furthermore, the Van Houtte acquisition drove its debt load up to $1.09 billion, from $354.5 million in the previous quarter.
Though its super-convenient Keurig single-cup brewers are a big hit for at-home java jolts, Green Mountain still faces plenty of competition from Starbucks, Peet's (Nasdaq: PEET ) , and Caribou, as well as fast food giant McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) , which has been excelling in peddling caffeinated beverages to price-conscious consumers.
Furthermore, commodity price inflation will be a major difficulty for many coffee purveyors going forward; Starbucks recently said that it will start passing some of its rising coffee costs on to customers. We'll have to see just how much coffee-related sticker shock caffeine fiends will bear.
There's a lot to like about Green Mountain: its sales growth, its Keurig single-cup brewers, and its environmentally positive mission. But despite today's optimism over its earnings beat and optimistic outlook, its stock remains expensive and risky.