Ever wonder what would happen to you if you ate nothing but McDonald's
The film, Super Size Me, won critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival and will be distributed more widely next month with extra fries and Coke.
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- Marry Me, Meg Whitman!
- Shameless Plug: Motley Fool Champion Funds
- JetBlue Is Still Exciting
- Quote of Note
- Steamin' Starbucks
- Discussion Board of the Day: Starbucks
- More on Fool.com Today
Marry Me, Meg Whitman!
By Rick Aristotle Munarriz (TMF Edible)
I'm a happily married guy. I love my wife. I've got two great kids. Well, I've got two kids, anyway. And by most accounts eBay
After another amazing quarter, I think even my wife might come around to agreeing to the nuptials. She's caught me red-handed on eBay, beaming over my perfect 100% feedback after 135 entries. She knows about us, Meg. She knows all about us.
We don't need to say "I Do" to exchange our vows. A more ironclad bond can be achieved by clicking each other's "Buy It Now" buttons, and we'll take it from there. I must say you look absolutely riveting in your March-quarter financials.
Earnings nearly doubled to $0.30 a share as net revenues climbed 59%. What really impresses me -- and you know I'm a mess when I look into your eyes and say mushy things like this -- is that this came on just a 45% uptick in active users and a 49% spurt in listings. In other words, the eBay community is becoming even more active and the average member is generating more in profits and revenues.
I guess it's no surprise that eBay has been a winning Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Drats! Those Gardner boys spotted you first. Then again, the same thing can be said about fellow dot-com survivors Amazon
So maybe it's time that I put away my immature, indecisive ways and pony up to make a more firm commitment. Meg, can I have eBay's hand in marriage? I've seen eBay grow over the years. I've been writing love letters since 1999 and never acted on those urges. I've often figured your stock was fairly valued, if not overvalued, only to see it break its promises -- for the better.
Like now. You're looking to earn as much as $1.06 a share this year on net revenues of $3.15 billion. It seems as if these targets keep rising every three months or so, doesn't it?
A perpetual desire to outperform is tearing away at my heartstrings. I don't think my portfolio can take it much longer. So, what do you say eBay? I've got my eye on the perfect ring, too. I just need another two days, 13 hours, and 37 minutes to make sure it's mine.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz realizes that he's ultimately not cut out for polygamy, though he has played a polygamist on TV. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.
Yes, it's a fact of life: Most of us have, shhhh, mutual funds. So why take unnecessary risks with your money? Do you really know the good mutual funds from the underperforming ones? That's why we launched Motley Fool Champion Funds. Editor Shannon Zimmerman combs lists and lists of available mutual funds to find those most worthy of your investment dollars. Check it out risk-free for 30 days.
JetBlue Is Still Exciting
By W.D. Crotty
Investors drove shares of JetBlue
The company is trumpeting its 11.3% operating margins, which frankly are excellent compared to the competition. For perspective, Southwest
Although JetBlue did beat analyst earnings estimates by $0.02 a share, the real news was that the upstart expanded capacity by 44.6% and still managed to fill 79.9% of its seats. Although that load factor is down 1.5% from last year, it is still ahead of low-cost rivals like AirTran
Clearly, it is JetBlue's ability to grow like mad and still fill seats at industry-leading levels that keeps heads turning. Nor has quality suffered. As Alyce Lomax recently reported, JetBlue was named No. 1 in the annual Airline Quality Rating survey published by the University of Nebraska and Wichita State University.
Those intent on finding signs of wind shear might note that revenue per seat mile (an important sales pricing metric in the industry) declined 7.9% to 6.85 cents, while Southwest's increased 3.9% to 8.07 cents. That would have been even more significant had expenses per seat mile not decreased 2.9% to 6.08 cents. By comparison, Southwest's expenses increased 4.3% to 7.82 cents. That seemingly modest expense difference provides JetBlue a significant operating advantage.
So, add it up. You have high margins, rapid growth, low operating costs, and quality. That's quite a combination, especially in the airline industry. It also comes at a price.
The stock trades at 36 times estimated 2004 (jargon alert: forward) earnings. But when sales are up 33% in a year for a low-cost leader, that premium looks justified -- and likely explains why investors bid the stock higher this morning.
Fool contributor W.D. Crotty does not own stock in any of the companies mentioned.
"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious." -- Oscar Wilde
By Alyce Lomax (TMF Lomax)
It's not surprising because same-store sales have remained caffeinated throughout the winter months. Even when there was reason to worry that tapped-out gift cards would equal consumer slowdown for beverages and pastries, that concern didn't materialize.
Starbucks' second-quarter earnings came in at $79 million, or $0.19 per diluted share, from $52 million, or $0.13 per share in the same quarter last year. Revenues increased 30% to $1.2 billion. In the company's press announcement, President and CEO Orin Smith said company-operated stores had the strongest quarterly same-store sales gain in 10 years.
In more good news, Starbucks' yearly growth is ahead of expectations; with current revenue growth of 28.8% on a year-to-date basis, the company now expects 2004 revenue growth in the range of 25% to 30%, as opposed to the old call for 20% for the year. It upped its 2004 earnings projection to $0.90 to $0.91 per share, from $0.86 to $0.87 per share.
(Don't get too excited -- Starbucks still stands by its old projections, that 20% revenue growth and 3% to 7% in same-store sales growth, with monthly anomalies, are the more realistic targets for the long term. Which ain't too shabby either.)
If there was any downside, it was the high price of dairy goods -- ah, the foamy milk that tops our lattes. (Other companies have shared this issue -- think Papa John's
On the upside, Starbucks is eyeing the non-coffee drinking set -- recent stats say that roughly half of us Americans avoid coffee altogether. The company plans several new Frappuccino flavors for the summer months, including several that don't contain coffee. Emphasis: chocolate. And when you consider the demographics that have a taste for chocolate -- and whether Starbucks will soon funnel more kids into its stores -- it seems a wise move.
Starbucks continues to grow its business and earnings, and its hold on the consumer taste bud shows no signs of stopping. Starbucks' stock recently rose 3%, hovering near its 52-week high. A P/E ratio of 42 sounds a bit pricey for most tastes, but when you consider Starbucks' history of delivering, it's arguable that you pay a high price for quality.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. She is not part of the population who avoids coffee altogether; nor does she avoid chocolate.
Is Starbucks overheated and investors are going to get burned? Or do you think the cafe chain can continue its earnings growth? Take a break and chat with other Fools on the Starbucks discussion board.
Selena Maranjian thinks FedEx and UPS may bring solid returns to your portfolio. Find out more in Two Companies That Deliver.... Seth Jayson continues in his quest to unlock the many truths of Benjamin Graham. Find out what stocks he uncovers under the investing guru's tenets in Getting Foolish With Graham.... Everyone needs a lawyer at some point -- but is Pre-Paid Legal the answer? And is it a good investment? Laurel Brady's got the answers in Get Out of Jail Free?
In other news:
For a list of all our stories from today, see our Today's Headlines page.