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Starbucks subtly boosts long-term value?

Jim Cramer has been a fan of Starbucks for quite some time. But he thinks CEO Howard Schultz just made a clever move that should drive value much further over the long run.

For several years, Cramer has cited Starbucks as a buy citing a slew of catalysts such as:
- An ability to grow earnings per share at a 20 percent annual clip over the next several years.
- Renovated stores driving more traffic.
- Large investments to improve the efficiency of the stores.
- The acquisition of Teavana as a way to leverage the public's passion for tea.

Of course all of those catalysts remain intact. But Cramer thinks Schultz just made another, very strategic move by offering his employees a free online education at Arizona state.

Jason Alden | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The program is open to any of the company's 135,000 United States employees, provided they work at least 20 hours a week and have the grades and test scores to gain admission.

Although there is likely a PR angle to these developments, Cramer says more importantly, it reflects something very relevant to investors—it helps Starbucks retain employees.

"And anything that helps retain high quality employees is something that falls right to the bottom line."

Not only does it reduce the significant expense of training new employees, but for Starbucks, Cramer says it doesn't something else. It addresses the criticisms of skeptics.

Because the business model is very much pegged to the abilities of employees to leverage state of the art technology used by Starbucks as well as the rapidly changing menu, there had been concerns that the java giant would struggle if it got much bigger.

But Cramer thinks Schultz just telegraphed how he intends to retain high quality workers and, therefore, grow and ultimately thrive for years to come.

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"I can't say a free education is going to raise the numbers, immediately," Cramer noted. "However I can say that because of this new initiative, over the long-term, the value of Starbucks shares has just increased."

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