Coffee shop giant Starbucks (SBUX) hasn't done much but give up 2013's gains ever since the calendar flipped to January. And so investors have been selling into the weakness: funds unloaded 4.83 million shares of SBUX last quarter, selling off a $343 million bet on the firm at today's share prices.
Starbucks is a $53 billion coffee company that runs a worldwide chain of more than 20,000 company-owned and licensed stores, as well as a packaged coffee products business whose products can be found on grocery shelves. The firm is largely responsible for creating a market for $5 cups of coffee, a lucrative business that's created more than a few competitors in the space. And that, in turn, has helped to fuel a strong growth story despite SBUX's current size.
Like Amazon, Starbucks currently sports a hefty valuation. While balance sheet leverage is still minimal, the firm's debt load has been growing in the past few quarters. Likewise, serious challenges in the packaged coffee space from the likes of Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR) is threatening to unseat SBUX in its home turf; the firm's own entree into the single-serve coffee market has failed to gain the traction that investors hope for.
Low moats, significant competition and a big price tag make SBUX a less than invigorating name to own in 2014.