Did Starbucks Just Give Investors 8 Billion Reasons to Buy Its Stock Right Now?

Is Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) stock about to roar back to life?

The coffee giant’s stock, once a fairly steady gainer over the years, has taken it on the chin in 2022. As with other top consumer goods names, investors worry about how factors like global supply shortages and inflation will affect the ubiquitous latte slinger.

After market hours on Tuesday, the company unveiled its fiscal 2022 third-quarter results (for the quarter ending July 3). Let’s take a look at the report and whether it helped ease the worries that have dominated 2022 discussions or created more cause for concern.

All is good (if you ignore what’s happening in China)

To cut quickly to the chase, Starbucks had a solid — if unspectacular — quarter. Total net revenue rose a healthy 9% year over year to $8.15 billion, although the global comparable-store sales increase figure was a relatively humdrum 3%.

Not for the first time, much of that growth came from the ever-coffee-craving U.S. market, in which “comps” rose 9%. In sharp contrast, comps for non-North America stores dropped 18%. This was almost entirely due to the Chinese market, in which a resurgent coronavirus kept customers from going to their favorite Starbucks at various points throughout the quarter.

Dropping to the bottom line, GAAP net income dropped by 19% to just under $913 million — $0.79 per share, rising to $0.84 on a non-GAAP (adjusted) basis.

On average, analysts were forecasting $8.14 billion in revenue, so the actual performance was broadly in line with that projection. Yet those prognosticators thought Starbucks would only earn $0.77 per share in adjusted net profit.

Investors were cautiously optimistic about these results, pushing Starbucks stock up 1.5% in after-hours trading following the publication of the results. Inflation is making a difference with this company; costs for ingredients ate into its profitability, as did higher employee wages in an environment of a still-tight U.S. labor market.

Starbucks has to purchase a lot of ingredients and field a big army of baristas. Considering that, the company didn’t do a bad job at all reining in those expenses as best it could with measures such as price increases. Other businesses facing the same challenges have suffered steeper profitability declines or plunged into the red.

China is a bit more of a problem. Yes, the coronavirus seems to have peaked and receded in recent months, but this thing has a way of returning like an unwanted guest at the coffee shop. If Starbucks is going to return to far more meaningful, investor-loving growth at some point, it needs the Chinese market to pick up again.

Can Starbucks rebound in 2023?

With the economy still seeing a lot of volatility and uncertainty, Starbucks did not proffer any guidance for future periods. Analysts, of course, are paid not to have such compunctions, so they’re happy to sling estimates around.

For fiscal 2022, collectively analysts predict the company’s revenue will rise a frothy 10% over 2021 to almost $32.2 billion. As production cost challenges are likely to persist, they’re forecasting a 12% slide in net profit to $2.85 per share. Importantly, though, they feel that 2023 will be a far better year, with another 10% improvement in the top line, and a rise of 20% for per-share net income.

Casual anecdotal evidence (basically, my frequent visits to stores for a java fix) suggests that Starbucks outlets, at least in the U.S., remain very popular destinations for coffee lovers. I think the company is doing a good job overcoming its recent challenges, China will recover sooner rather than later, and Starbucks will continue to grow ever bigger, if that’s conceivable at this point.  

Eric Volkman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Starbucks. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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