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Trouble Brewing for Starbucks? Pro Weighs In

Friday, 27 Jul 2012 | 3:59 PM ET
Starbucks Center
Mark Ralston | Getty Images
Starbucks Center

On the heels of a rare earnings miss for Starbucks, is trouble brewing for the coffee company’s stock?

One analyst still sees growth ahead for the coffee retailer, but he cut his price target in the wake of its disappointing report.

“I think they’re being conservative to start off their fiscal year, which ends September 2013, so this is the first time that they gave that guidance and they historically have been conservative at the onset,” said Matt DiFrisco, Lazard Capital Markets senior restaurant analyst.

Starbucks , one of the food industry’s top performers, fell short of Wall Street’s earnings expectations as visits to its coffee shops slowed beginning in June. It also cut its outlook for the current quarter due to global economic weakness and the slowdown in store visits.

After the report, DiFrisco cut his price target to $64 from $69, but maintained a “buy” rating on the company’s stock. Baird Equity Research also cut its price target on the company to $50 from $65, and lowered its rating on the stock to “neutral.”

Starbucks Loses Steam
Shares of Starbucks are sharply lower this morning after reporting earnings that fell short of Wall Street's expectations and lowering its outlook, with Matt DiFrisco, Lazard Capital Markets.

In the recently ended quarter, same-store sales rose 7 percent in the Americas region and 12 percent in the region that includes China. European comps were flat.

“They’re not having competitive pressure,” DiFrisco said. “They’re not seeing a dramatic slowdown and the fundamentals in their business opportunities are very strong.”

Meanwhile, Lazard analysts said they expect Starbucks to shift its focus more toward boosting growth overseas and to the higher margin consumer products group, which includes Starbucks-branded products sold in grocery stores.

Starbucks recently rolled out its line of Evolution Fresh juices and Refreshers beverages at select locations along with K-Cup packs nationwide.

“They have a lot of new news to drive that exterior channel,” DiFrisco said. “Their own retail stores will benefit also on a same-store sales front from that, so I think there are some good times ahead.”

The company’s results took investors by surprise and sent its shares sliding in their biggest one-day drop in 12 years. The news follows disappointing results from Chipotle Mexican Grill and McDonald’s, and has added to worries that U.S. consumers are cutting discretionary spending.

It was not all bad news in the food industry, however. In spite of higher commodity costs, Panera Bread, one of DiFrisco’s top picks in the category, reported better-than-expected results on Tuesday.

—By CNBC.com’s Katie Little

Additional News: Starbucks CEO Talks Earnings

Additional Views: Traders Weigh In on Starbucks

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Disclosures:

Lazard Capital Markets makes a market in Starbucks securities.

Disclaimer
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Follow Katie Little on Twitter @katie_little.

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