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Starbucks, Green Mountain: K-Cup Deal

Analyst Keith Siegner noted that the Starbucks-Green Mountain deal represents an example of extremely high-return potential with very low risk for the Seattle company to leverage its brand equity.

The partnership also adds weight to Green Mountain's Keurig platform, already the leader in the at-home and in-the-office single-cup brewing market.

Moreover, Starbucks committed very little capital to the deal and retained a fair amount of flexibility to continue to pursue other single-serve opportunities.

With the Starbucks-Kraft partnership now officially expired , Siegner said market watchers will look to Starbucks' second-quarter results for a pickup in comparable same-store sales, better margins and further clarification on its post-Kraft packaged coffee business.

Canaccord Genuity consumer analyst Scott Van Winkle noted that the Starbucks-Green Mountain deal lessens the risks of K-Cup competition.

"The Starbucks deal announced Thursday is much more significant than just an incremental brand associated with Keurig," he said. "The deal is further validation, locks up the final major US coffee brand (excluding Maxwell House, which is attached to the Tassimo system) and thus reduces risk of future K-cup competition."

"The deal's impact on Green Mountain shares is rightfully more than the impact on near-term earnings or cash flow," Van Winkle added. "We believe that the Starbucks partnership reduces risk by at least 20% and thus have increased our near-term price-to-earnings target by 20%."

Maxwell House coffee is owned by Kraft Foods (KFT). Until recently, Starbucks had been providing coffee discs for Kraft's Tassimo single-cup home brewers . That agreement officially ended March 1 after a drawn out, public legal battle between the pair in which Starbucks claimed that Kraft neglected and mismanaged the partnership.

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