Remember, we care more about a company's future, not its past and this gift card news was nothing short of fantastic for the earnings projections. You could not have learned about it from the headlines though, you needed to hear it on the call.
What else did the headlines miss? How about excellent sales in China even though right at the beginning of the quarter the Chinese government TV station did a half hour slam of Starbucks for gouging Chinese with ultra-high coffee prices?
How about the incredibly fast start in India that could produce some very meaningful numbers later this year? How about the success in remaking and remodeling Starbucks, including adding drive-through and offering more food that makes it so that the Starbucks experience is no longer as morning-centric.
But the real thrust of the call, something that couldn't be captured in the headlines at all, came at the very beginning of the call when Schultz traced out what he called a seismic shift in retailing that occurred this very quarter past: the twilight of the traditional bricks and mortar mall shopper vs. the rise of the device toting home shopper and what it means for retailers of the future.Schultz pointed out that many commentators have blamed weak holiday sales on the weather, the shortened period between Thanksgiving and Christmas and the government shutdown. Schultz dismissed those almost entirely. Traffic, he said, went down because America's changing. This was the year where people decided that they like shopping online more than they like going to the mall and they aren't going to go back. It's a secular change and it is just starting. But, he said, Starbucks saw this coming and has been able to embrace digital, embrace mobile and embrace social in ways that have made Starbucks not immune, but more immune than other retailers. The technology they have invested in has allowed lines to move faster, giving the company a chance to add more complex items, liked baked goods, carbonated drinks and special coffees to the menu without slowing down the through-put. Most important, Starbucks, by virtue of its principal product, coffee, does not compete with cross town neighbor Amazon. Or to put it another way, Amazon's got the original beast mode on offense, Marshawn Lynch, but Schultz is the equivalent of Cramer uber fave Richard Sherman, a defensive playmaker that is capable of winning the Super Bowl of retailing just like I think he could win the actual Super Bowl for the Seahawks. There was so much else that was fabulous on the call. I like the rollout of Teavana that's just beginning and I suspect that it will be a gigantic driver in the out-years. I thought that the analysis of how people like gift choicing -- meaning giving a gift card to people has now become engrained in the culture. I like that those who get gift cards for Starbucks are often people who have never been to one and not only will they buy some coffee but they might be swayed into some of the other new food offerings with high price points. But here's the bottom line: on hideous days like today you have to remember that just like Pete Carrill might make you want to bet with the Seahawks Howard Schultz makes you want to invest in Starbucks because he is the very embodiment of the Bankable 21 that I salute in "Get Rich Carefully," the CEO coaches who win even when, on a day like today, all others around you are losing.