The king of coffee served up what has become the new normal for its quarterly earnings report card. In-line earnings, because Wall Street continues to hold Starbucks to a very high standard, U.S. same-store sales growth below heady gains seen in yesteryear and strong results in emerging markets.
Starbucks shares fell 10% to $53.53 Friday afternoon.
Guidance was OK, but nothing as to signal a major earnings re-acceleration over the next few quarters. Starbucks tries as it must to keep investor expectations in check, and doing so often leads to heightened volatility on earnings day.
Having said that, for several reasons there was a better tone around this particular report than in most recent quarters. Some things you have to like:
- New CEO Kevin Johnson takes decisive action to close 379 mall-based Teavana stores. Teavana was, and has been, a horrible business. A company selling expensive loose leaf tea in dying malls? Come on. From an investor standpoint, it's good to see Johnson in what looks to be full control (despite Howard Schultz' office being nearby) and above all else, a business that is losing money being shed to invest elsewhere.
- Starbucks U.S. battled its own traffic challenges in the quarter, like just about every other restaurant chain. But the 5% comp increase suggests that, believe it or not, Starbucks has room to pass along even higher prices. Further, it shows that Starbucks' move toward drink and food premium-ization is slowly starting to take hold. Suddenly, building giant Roasteries in big tourist markets doesn't seem like such a bad idea.
- You have to really like the continued strong growth in mobile payment usage, especially as competing chains launch and enhance their own mobile strategies. Starbucks is likely to leverage its mobile payments business even further under Johnson, strengthening the ecosystem.
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Meanwhile, yours truly jumped on Facebook Live at the crack of dawn to talk about Amazon, Starbucks and anything else that popped to mind. Enjoy.
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