When debating which stocks in your portfolio you can hold indefinitely, there are some important things to consider. Companies that have been doing the same thing for years by giving customers exactly what they want, while at the same time not being vulnerable to disruption, are the key ingredients to look for.
Giving customers what they need
Starbucks didn't become a global coffeehouse empire by accident. The company gained from elevating the world's love affair with caffeine, something that we can be fairly sure will be the case far into the future.
Starbucks offers customers items ranging from cold brews to lattes and anything in between, plus food options. The coronavirus pandemic disrupted weekday morning routines last year with more people working from home, which resulted in lower transaction counts. But sales have come roaring back, rising 78% in the most recent quarter to reach a record $7.5 billion.
"As the Great Human Reconnection continues to unfold, our partners are rising to the occasion, ready to meet our customers wherever they need us to be -- with the right store, in the right place, at the right time," CEO Kevin Johnson said confidently about his company's Q3 2021 performance.
There are currently 33,295 Starbucks locations worldwide, with the two largest markets, unsurprisingly, being the U.S. and China; combined they account for 62% of the global footprint. Of the 1,100 new locations the company plans to open in fiscal 2021, 600 will be in China. And management expects the growth to continue for many years to come, setting an ambitious target of 55,000 stores across 100 markets by 2030. This would make Starbucks the largest food and beverage concept in the world based on the number of locations.
On the back of a stellar performance last quarter, the company raised its full-year financial outlook. Global same-store sales growth of 20% to 21% and earnings per share of $2.97 to $3.02 are some of the key metrics that were bumped up.
A forever stock needs to have enduring consumer relevance. Starbucks no doubt possesses this vital characteristic.
Minimal technological disruption
If you plan to own Starbucks forever, another critical thing to think about is how the company deals with the threat of technological disruption. The good thing about this business is that it doesn't operate in a high-tech industry, instead playing in the slower-moving restaurant sector of the economy.
Besides constant menu innovation, Starbucks' business model hasn't changed much. However, what the company has really emphasized in recent years is bolstering its world-class digital infrastructure. Focusing on providing an outstanding consumer experience is crucial for Starbucks to keep its customers happy and gain new ones.
As of June 27, Starbucks counted 24.2 million active rewards members in the U.S., a 48% increase from the year-ago period. Not only do these coffee enthusiasts tend to visit and spend more, they provide Starbucks with an extremely valuable channel to communicate and engage with its most loyal fans. This sort of connection is table stakes for any consumer brand that wants to thrive not just today, but for a long time.
Furthermore, during the depths of the pandemic, Starbucks' ability to offer delivery, curbside pick-up, and drive-through ordering helped to entrench its already-powerful position. The business was able to deliver for its customers in whatever way was most convenient for them.
Starbucks is one of the most recognized brands in the world, and it has grown into a coffee giant by taking care of its customers. Couple this with the fact that it operates in an industry that will likely be here many years from now, and you have the makings of a stock you can keep forever.