Starbucks' (SBUX) Earnings Top Estimates, But Election Uncertainty Looms

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Starbucks (SBUX) posted better than expected fourth quarter financial results after the market close on Thursday afternoon, however the coffee giant noted that the U.S. presidential election is creating uncertainty for consumers.

"I would label this time as one with a high degree of uncertainty, domestically driven, but it has affected the rest of the world. Where we have visited, we have never witnessed such concern as a result of the (U.S. presidential) election," company CEO Howard Schultz said yesterday on a call with investors.

The company missed the 5% U.S. sales target, which it promised to return to last quarter. U.S. same-store-sales grew by 4%, just below the 4.8% increase Wall Street was looking for.

The panel on Fox Business Network's "Varney & Co." weren't too sure how Starbucks' come to its conclusion and linked the sales figures to the election.

"You know you wonder how did they come up with that logic that 'oh, it's the election and uncertainty, so I'm not going to buy a latte,'" FBN's Elizabeth MacDonald asked. "I just didn't really, couldn't square that."

With the help of analysts MacDonald looked into consumer spending growth from the second quarter, which was found to be cut in half.

"That's the big uncertainty and anxiety over 'what are my health costs going to be in the future?' So people are pocketing their money according to economists that we've been talking to," she continued.

Starbucks reported adjusted earnings of 56 cents per share on revenue of $5.71 billion. Analysts had been looking for earnings of 55 cents per share on revenue of $5.69 billion for the fourth quarter.

Looking to fiscal 2017 Starbucks forecast earnings of $2.12 to $2.14 per share, below the $2.16 per share analyst have predicted.

Starbucks stock is rising on Friday morning. 

(Starbucks is held in Jim Cramer's charitable trust portfolio Action Alerts PLUS. See all of Cramer's holdings with a free trial.

Separately, TheStreet Ratings objectively rated this stock according to its "risk-adjusted" total return prospect over a 12-month investment horizon. Not based on the news in any given day, the rating may differ from Jim Cramer's view or that of this articles's author. TheStreet Ratings has this to say about the recommendation:

We rate STARBUCKS CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of B. This is driven by a number of strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its growth in earnings per share, increase in net income, revenue growth, notable return on equity and good cash flow from operations. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

You can view the full analysis from the report here: SBUX

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