Starbucks Corp. is scheduled to report first-quarter 2019 earnings on Thursday after the closing bell and while RBC Capital Markets analysts are bullish about the North American business revival, there are questions about China.
RBC is forecasting for 3% same-store sales growth in the Americas for the quarter, while FactSet is guiding for 3.1% growth in the region.
RBC says its proprietary data indicates same-store sales growth could be between 3% and 4%, but “there could be upside to our estimate given positive company comments at the Dec. 13 investor day about the impact of recent TV advertising and throughput initiatives, and strong restaurant and retail industry traffic trends in December.”
KeyBanc Capital Markets is also optimistic about U.S. same-store sales, thanks to efforts like Starbucks’s
partnership with Nestle S.A.
that streamline the business.
The quarter will also shed light on risks in China, an important region for Starbucks’s
expansion. Areas of possible jeopardy include “weak China consumer confidence, potential U.S. brand backlash, and market share loss to discount competitors.”
RBC identifies a few ways that Starbucks can counteract the impact of any backlash from the trade war including joint marketing with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
and support from the company’s own workforce.
RBC rates Starbucks shares outperform with a $78 price target.
Even with concerns, KeyBanc analysts say Starbucks’ growth in China has been “explosive,” with about 30% revenue and unit growth, 40% profit growth per year and same-store sales exceeding 5% growth until recently.
“While near-term visibility is limited, we do not believe the recent deceleration is indicative of a longer-term trend,” analysts wrote in a Dec. 18 note.
Starbucks stock has an average overweight rating and an average price target of $69.32 according to 31 analysts polled by FactSet.
Here’s what to expect:
Earnings: FactSet expects earnings of 65 cents per share, flat with last year’s result.
Estimize, a crowdsourcing platform that gathers estimates from Wall Street analysts, buy-side analysts, hedge-fund managers, company executives, academics and others, expects EPS of 66 cents.
Starbucks has exceeded the FactSet EPS consensus the last two quarters.
Revenue: FactSet is guiding for revenue of $6.49 billion, up from $6.07 billion last year.
Estimize’s revenue guidance is slightly higher at $6.50 billion.
Starbucks has beaten the FactSet revenue estimates the last four quarters.
Stock price: Starbucks shares have gained 12.7% over the past three months, and 7.4% in the past year. Meanwhile the S&P 500 index
has slumped 4.1% over the last three months, and 7.4% for the last 12 months.
What else to what for:
-Digital is an asset: RBC thinks digital user growth has picked up recently, which will give U.S. traffic a boost. Other programs within the mobile order-and-pay systems, like personalized marketing, can also help sales.
-Menu innovation: Expansion of the Cold Brew Nitro offering to about 8,500 U.S. company stores by the end of fiscal 2019 from 2,500 will also be beneficial, RBC said.
“We also believe enhanced digital user adoption/personalization and menu innovation, including new beverage news, a shift to healthier refreshment options, and a steady growth food platform, with contribute incremental growth,” wrote KeyBanc.
KeyBanc rates Starbucks shares overweight with a $70 price target.
–Fewer stores but more delivery: KeyBanc thinks that “pruning” the number of Starbucks stores and having fewer licensed store openings will provide the company with a 50-to-100 basis point same-store sales growth tailwind during the fiscal year.
During the investor day presentation, Starbucks outlined renovation plans for about one-third of the existing store base over the next couple of years and delivery through UberEats in 25% of stores by the end of fiscal second-quarter 2019. Delivery results in the Miami pilot indicate higher check totals but margins are unclear, according to BTIG analysts, who published a note after the presentation, on Dec. 14.
Long term, Starbucks expects consolidated revenue growth of 7% to 9% and adjusted EPS growth of at least 10%, the company said in its investor day release.
“The targets indicate to us that Starbucks is slowly transitioning to a more mature, total return-focused company from the heady growth model of a few years ago,” wrote BTIG.
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