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Starbucks, Green Mountain: K-Cup Deal

The Keurig-installed base grows at over 5 million brewers annually, Canaccord Genuity's Van Winkle said last month, an attractive growth prospect for Starbucks which has said it intends to make its coffee available in every form consumers want.

Van Winkle said then he expects single-cup coffee sales, including brewing machines and coffee pods, to rise to $4 billion in the U.S. this year.

Richard Haffner, head of global beverage research at Euromonitor, told Reuters that U.S. sales of single-serve coffee pods (excluding brewing machines) grew to $600 million in 2010. Global sales were $4.3 billion last year.

Van Winkle added that "attaching to the new Keurig technology could put Starbucks in a position to expand the range of beverages available, to lead a better solution than is in the market today, and to be the driver of adoption utilizing its stores for distribution."

"Keurig is the dominant brand in single-serve coffee with rapidly rising consumer adoption of its brewers seeding a market opportunity that Starbucks can't resist," Van Winkle said.

Van Winkle maintained his buy rating and $50 price target on Green Mountain throughout the building anticipation of a deal with Starbucks, and estimated that "earnings-per-share can exceed $1 for each 5% market penetration, with a 25% household penetration looking achievable."

JPMorgan analyst John Ivankoe noted in December that "such [a] product will be incremental to Starbucks' store sales and could easily be a $1 billion revenue opportunity for Starbucks in the U.S. alone."

Starbucks spokeswoman Lara Wyss likened the coffee company's plans to penetrate the single-cup coffee brewing market to the impact Apple's (AAPL) iPhones had on the smartphone market.

-- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

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