Earnings of 75 cents a share came in 10 cents per share ahead of expectations, while revenue of $6.63 billion grew 9.2% year-over-year and beat consensus expectations by $140 million.
Cowen analysts came away with a cautiously optimistic take from the quarter, saying, "We can envision upside to EPS as the 1Q EPS beat exceeded the 2019 guidance raise. However, to get more positive, we need to durably underwrite 4% Americas comps." They bumped their price target to $63 from $61 as a result, although that still suggests a slight decline from current levels.
For a long time, Starbucks has been struggling to grow its comparable-store sales. But that wasn't as much of an issue this quarter, with global comps rising 4%, driven by 4% comp growth in the U.S. Analysts were only expecting global comp-store sales of 2.9%.
Given the weakness in China lately and all of the concern that's come from investors, there were certainly some worries floating about for Starbucks ahead of the numbers. However, China held up for Starbucks, with comp-store sales rising 1% and CEO Kevin Johnson talking positively about the region on the conference call. Starbucks will continue to open new stores -- the latest of which are "highly profitable" -- and plan for the long term with China.
Of course, the cherry on top here is that Starbucks provided better-than-expected guidance. Management now expects full-year earnings of $2.68 to $2.73 per share, above consensus expectations of $2.65 a share as well as management's prior outlook of $2.61 per share to $2.66 per share.
Trading Starbucks Stock
So where does all that leave us now?
Starbucks saw some strong selling pressure going into the close Thursday, just ahead of the company's earnings results. The stock bounced off uptrend support (black line) and is now pushing higher Friday. While the recent action hasn't sent SBUX to new all-time highs yet, there's plenty of reason for bulls to be optimistic. Shares are over both the 50-day and 21-day moving averages, as well as prior downtrend support (blue line).
Investors need to take a second here and change their perception of Starbucks. While the stock did struggle for several years, it has been a beast since its summer lows. Look at the chart and consider just how well the name did in the fourth quarter, where the broader stock market and seemingly every name was down by 20% or more. Starbucks, though? Up in October into earnings, then shares went soaring after its fourth-quarter results.
That makes Starbucks a name I'd rather be long than short and sets it up as a buy-the-dips candidate. For now, we're approaching the $68 level, which acted as resistance the last time the stock was near this mark.
Buyers need to be on the lookout for a possible breakout. If achieved, it could power Starbucks stock up through $70. Should resistance keep Starbucks stock in check, this is definitely one to watch for on a pullback.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author had no positions in the stocks mentioned.