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Starbucks Corporation (SBUX) Earnings Preview: Serving Up Hot Q1 Profits

 January 23, 2013 03:58 PM

(By Rich Bieglmeier) Starbucks Corporation (SBUX) is expected to report earnings after the market closes on Thursday, January 24, 2013, with the conference call slated for 5 PM - EST. Wall Street anticipates that SBUX will earn $0.57 for its fiscal 2013 1st quarter. iStock expects the retailer of specialty coffee to report earnings that will meet Wall Street's consensus number. The iEstimate is in line with the street at $0.57.

Starbucks Corporation operates as a roaster, marketer, and retailer of specialty coffee worldwide. As of September 30, 2012, the company operated 9,405 company-operated stores and 8,661 licensed stores. 

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Twelve of the last 16 earnings announcements SBUX provided shareholders with more EPS caffeine than analysts' consensus estimate. On two occasions, results were on target and twice fell underwater compared to the forecasted profit target.

Ten times in the last four years, shareholders were treated to gains in SBUX shares with an average increase of 7.26% in the days surrounding the news. Meanwhile, the NASDAQ 100 member lost an average of 4.33% on the six occasions the stock price retreated. 

There is room for another upside surprise as last month CFO Troy Alstead said earnings could be up nearly 15%. For last year's first quarter, SBUX produced 50 cents per share in earnings. At 57 cents, analysts are modeling 14% eps growth. Add another one percent – probably more as any seasoned executive know to sandbag some – and earnings should be at least 58 cents.

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A recent UBS consumer panel analysis showed that Starbucks same-store-sales, a metric Wall Street will be watching closely – rose to 7% in Q1 2013, versus 6% in Q4 2012. This momentum helps explain the CEO's enthusiasm. The analyst lifted the price target for the coffee shop to $64 from 59% on increased growth projections for fiscal 2013.

Falling coffee prices are another potential supporter to SBUX's bottom line. According to the International Coffee Organization (ICO), "Coffee prices underwent further downward corrections in December 2012, with the monthly average of the ICO composite indicator price falling by 3.7% to 131.31 US cents/lb, compared to a level of 188.90 US cents/lb at the beginning of the calendar year." The price has recovered a bit in 2013, with the ICO closing on the 22nd at $134.09.  Overall, lower prices should help margins get fatter, adding another penny? Two?

Overall, iStock expects Starbucks Corporation (SBUX) to post a profit that at least meets the iEstimate and consensus expectations of $0.57. However, with same store sales on the rise while input costs for coffee fall, we believe the odds strongly favor a result above Wall Street's and iStock's forecasts; something closer to 60 cents.



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