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Starbucks downgraded by Bernstein because China growth is not enough to offset slowing US sales

  • "The business mix is clearly shifting toward China … just not fast enough to offset the US," Bernstein analyst Sara Senatore says.
  • Starbucks said Thursday its same-store sales in China rose 6 percent for fiscal first quarter 2018. U.S. sales, meanwhile, rose 2 percent in that period.
  • Senatore downgrades the stock to market perform from outperform and trims her price target to $64 per share from $67.
A Starbucks store in Shenzhen, China.
Brent Lewin | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A Starbucks store in Shenzhen, China.

Starbucks' strong growth in China will be overshadowed by slowing sales in the U.S., an analyst at Bernstein said Monday.

"The business mix is clearly shifting toward China … just not fast enough to offset the US," analyst Sara Senatore said in a note to clients. "While we think SBUX's China business can contribute meaningfully to growth over time, the US's slowdown will overwhelm it."

Senatore downgraded the stock to market perform from outperform and trimmed her price target on Starbucks to $64 per share from $67. Starbucks shares closed at $57.99 on Friday; they closed down 1.7 percent Monday at $57.02.

Starbucks said Thursday its same-store sales in China rose 6 percent for fiscal first quarter 2018. U.S. sales, meanwhile, rose 2 percent in that period. Overall same-store sales grew less than expected for the quarter.

"We think the China mix shift is a powerful long term story — just as it was for Yum — [but] the issue is that relative to Yum's business in 2004 (the year the company started to break out results), Starbucks' is still meaningfully more weighted to the US," Senatore said.

China's contribution to Starbucks' segment earnings before interest and taxes in fiscal 2017 was 8 percent, Senatore said, while China added 16 percent to Yum's segment EBIT in 2004. The U.S., meanwhile, contributed 60 percent to Starbucks' U.S. segment EBIT, while adding 59 percent to Yum's in 2004.