It has been a wild ride for the leader in coffee since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. From its March 2020 low to an all-time high in July 2021, Starbucks' (SBUX -0.35%) stock rose 117%. Then, over the next 11 months, shares dropped 43%. In the past six months, however, the stock has climbed 36%. This roller-coaster ride applies more to a Starbucks' customer's energy levels than the value of a $112 billion enterprise. 

What's next on the horizon? Could this popular consumer discretionary stock be ready for a bull run -- that's a 20% gain -- in 2023? Let's take a closer look. 

Recent performance 

In fiscal 2022 (ended Oct. 2), Starbucks increased revenue 11% to $32.3 billion. This double-digit gain was on top of 23.6% growth in the previous fiscal year, which is quite remarkable. Global same-store sales, or comps, rose 8% on a year-over-year basis. And although adjusted earnings per share of $2.96 were down 7.5%, the figure exceeded what Wall Street was expecting. 

The business opened 763 net new stores during the fourth quarter, bringing the total to an incredible 35,711 worldwide. What's more, Starbucks' leading loyalty program now counts 28.7 million rewards members in the U.S., translating to a 16% year-over-year jump. 

It wasn't all good news, however. Starbucks, like many other businesses, is dealing with high inflation. Rachel Ruggeri, the company's CFO, mentioned that the management team "expects headwinds related to supply chain and commodity and inflationary pressures to continue in fiscal 2023." But higher costs have been somewhat offset by "sales leverage, pricing, and productivity." 

This can be summed up by the fact that in the latest fiscal quarter, customer transactions were up just 1% in North America and the U.S., but the average ticket size increased 10% compared to the prior-year period. Furthermore, Starbucks' operating margin in Q4 2022 was 14.2%, narrowing substantially from 18.2% in Q4 2021. 

With the Federal Reserve continuing to hike interest rates, albeit at a slower pace now, shareholders should be prepared for a possible recession sometime in 2023. While Starbucks has no risk of becoming insolvent, thanks to its consistent positive free cash flow, an economic downturn could negatively affect sales. 

When times are tough, consumers will probably cut back on unnecessary spending categories, which expensive, premium coffee falls under. The leadership team seems confident, though, as they estimate Starbucks will increase revenue between 10% and 12% in fiscal 2023. 

What about the stock? 

Despite what appears to be a business on solid footing today, Starbucks' stock is still down 16% on the year, even as investor sentiment turned positive over the past six months. Shares are currently trading for a trailing price-to-earnings (P/E) multiple of 35 and a forward P/E (based on consensus analyst estimates) of 29. These compare very favorably to the stock's trailing 10-year averages. 

Over the past decade, Starbucks generated a 20% return, which would technically equate to a so-called "bull run," in four different years. So it really is hard to say what will happen in 2023. 

Management is expecting earnings per share to increase in the 15% to 20% range that was previously provided in September. If Starbucks hits its earnings target, shareholders might drive up the stock price, resulting in a bull run in 2023. 

That's because posting 15% to 20% bottom-line growth in a weakening economic environment would probably be a boon for the stock. But investors also shouldn't be surprised if management lowers its forecasts in the event that the macro situation gets even worse. Things are just too uncertain right now to say anything with confidence. 

Starbucks has been a solid investment over the years, and the business is still finding ways to expand. This is the important information that investors need to keep an eye on. Whether shares will rise 20% next year or not is hard to tell. However, the stock deserves a closer look right now, as it can provide a safe and reliable foundation for your portfolio.