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Starbucks Earnings Set a Not-Venti-Enough Record in Q1

By Motley Fool Staff - Jan 30, 2018 at 10:15PM

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$6 billion in revenue wasn’t as high as analysts had hoped for.

In this segment of the Motley Fool Money podcast, host Chris Hill, Million Dollar Portfolio's Jason Moser, and Total Income's Ron Gross check in on the king of the coffee purveyors, Starbucks (SBUX 2.98%), which has reported its fiscal first-quarter results. And while they were sweet, they weren't quite the unicorn frappuccino that the markets had anticipated. The question is where the growth will be from here (hint: Asia) and whether this was a sign of bad things to come.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on Jan. 26, 2018.

Chris Hill: We begin with a hot, steaming mug of earnings. Starbucks' first quarter revenue came in at a record $6 billion. That was actually lower than Wall Street was expecting. That plus some tepid same-store sales numbers, shares of Starbucks down 5% on Friday, Jason.

Jason Moser: Yeah, these were Tall, not Venti, and I think the market is reacting appropriately.

Ron Gross: I'm going to let that go.

Moser: Let's be clear here, this was their first $6 billion quarter, so I think it's a little bit of an overreaction to say this is a business in decline. But I think the question we need to answer is, was this a quarter that didn't quite hit expectations? Or was this a quarter that portends tougher times to come? And I think that's a very fair question. When we talk about Starbucks and growth, it's really all about China and Asia-Pacific. That continues to be the case. 30% revenue growth in that region. And I think the Shanghai Roastery is really encouraging for a number of reasons. I think it's going to give them the opportunity to really groom that brand and communicate that brand on a global basis. But, very interesting statistic here, the average check of the Shanghai operation, first day it was open, $29 average check. Which is just really impressive to think about. Every person that went in there spent $29.

Hill: They're not going to keep that up, though.

Moser: No! That was the first day.

Gross: Pessimist.

Moser: But I think it gives you the sign of the potential there. And when they roll that out on a global basis -- Howard Schultz is, I think, in Milan right now looking to set up another one -- there's a big potential there, I think.

Gross: I'm going to put you on the spot. I've wanted to own Starbucks forever. I've just never gotten into it. Am I too late?

Moser: I don't think so. You look at a business here that, yes, this was a tough quarter; yes, it sounds like guidance going forward is a little light. I think it's going to be a good business 10 years from now. I think coffee is obviously something that's not going to be disrupted, so to speak. The one question I have for Starbucks: This is really what takes me by surprise a little bit -- when you look at the number of reward members, it's about 14.2 million rewards card members now. But that's off a base of 75 million unique customers per month. I just feel like there's something missing there. Either there's friction in signing them up, they're missing a big opportunity here, and I think it's something they need to figure out how to capitalize on.

Hill: And we've talked before about the issues they've had with mobile ordering and causing problems with throughput in the stores in the U.S. It seems like the loyalty program is at least part of that equation for them, isn't it?

Moser: There's no question. The loyalty program is intended to create that recurring revenue, that loyal customer, and that ease of use. It's really supposed to make Starbucks part of your day every day. And if there's a problem there, whether it's throughput, whether its friction signing up for the card, whatever that may be, we need to figure out how to overcome that hurdle.

Gross: I'm part of that friction. I do not have a card. To this day. I really should jump on that.

Moser: You know what? Literally, my opinion just changed right now.

Hill: If you're going to be a shareholder, you might want to help yourself out there.

Gross: All right, first things first.

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