It's not often that the media pays too much attention to companies' annual meetings, but Starbucks'
At the meeting yesterday, Starbucks' CEO, Howard Schultz, addressed that now-infamous memo, which leaked in February. He explained that he has often sent such memos over the course of the company's history -- it's just that usually they don't leak to the press and the public.
Anybody who follows Starbucks knows that negative sentiment got very high after the memo was leaked, as investors wondered if this meant the brand was getting knocked around by competitors like McDonald's
Many investors viewed the latte cup as half empty, instead of half full. And such negative sentiment actually might have presented a golden opportunity to consider purchasing some Starbucks shares -- after all, when everybody freaks out and runs for the exits, it often presents an opportunity for savvy investors with guts of steel.
Management went ahead and reiterated guidance for the year at the meeting, with the company's heady planned growth to the tune of 40,000 total stores, half overseas, still on track. It brings up the idea that if you're going to ask the tough questions, isn't it better to ask them when things are still good, not when things have gotten bad?
In my view, it's a good thing that Schultz looks at the risks to the business and sends frequent reminders to top management to contemplate them. It insinuates leadership isn't prone to sit on any laurels or self-congratulatory stagnation, and will honestly explore actions that could help the company to continue to achieve, instead of simply closing its eyes and hoping customers will stick around and rivals will fail in their competitive strategies.
There's a big lesson here, one most people know but can too readily dismiss. Risk cannot be ignored. But a situation in which investors flee so readily and so emotionally when a company's core business is still intact may be a good time to think just a little bit contrarian.
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