Starbucks in 2015: How Much Buzz Does the Stock Have Left?

By Markets Fool.com


Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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Coffeehouse pioneer Starbucks had a relatively quiet 2014 from an investing standpoint, with shares climbing 6%, trailing the gains of the broader stock market. Yet when you look at how its business has performed from a fundamental perspective, Starbucks has posted dramatic growth in revenue and earnings during the past several years, and it remains poised to keep capitalizing on further growth opportunities in 2015 and beyond.

The question investors want answered is, if Starbucks can deliver top- and bottom-line results, will the stock respond favorably with further gains, or has the coffee giant's valuation already taken any reasonable success into account? Let's take a closer look at Starbucks to see whether another shot of caffeine could send shares upward in 2015.

Stats on Starbucks

Average stock target price

$91.19

Full-year fiscal 2015 EPS estimate

$3.13

Full-year fiscal 2016 EPS estimate

$3.67

Full-year fiscal 2015 sales growth estimate

15.4%

Full-year fiscal 2016 sales growth estimate

11%

Forward P/E

22.1

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

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How Starbucks can keep growing
Investors certainly haven't given up hope that Starbucks can climb from current levels, with the average price target from Wall Street analysts resting more than 10% higher than the stock's current levels. The most optimistic assessments expect gains of closer to 25%, while even the most pessimistic outlook has the stock staying roughly level for the year. Those expectations are relatively close to what investors are looking for from chain rival Dunkin' Brands , as well as home-brew leader Keurig Green Mountain this year.

Perhaps the most promising sign of Starbucks' future success is that the company isn't terribly concerned about its short-term results in 2015. Rather, the company released its long-term growth plan early last month, providing details on how Starbucks expects to grow during the next five years.

Starbucks has ambitious goals. It projects that its sales will nearly double from $16 billion in fiscal 2014 to $30 billion in fiscal 2019, and expects its number of stores to rise from 21,000 to 30,000. The coffee giant expects to do that through a combination of strategies, including doubling its store count in China, rolling out new innovations to use mobile technology to improve order flow, and making its super-premium offerings more readily available around the world through its Starbucks Reserve and Teavana brands.


Source: Starbucks.

Starbucks has also continued to work on generating positive sentiment for its corporate practices. At a recent investor-day presentation, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz described efforts to help military veterans reintegrate into American life, with hiring initiatives and community support that has helped the lives of thousands of military families. Those efforts jibe well with previous moves to support both Starbucks employees and community members in the areas that Starbucks serves.

Still, Starbucks faces plenty of challenges. One involves the ongoing challenge of making food a larger part of Starbucks' overall sales, with the acquisition of bakery company La Boulange still leaving the company with limited menus of pastry-heavy selections. Future efforts will test other types of food including lunch fare and pizza, and the introduction of wine and beer sales could bring in a whole new customer base for the company. Yet similar efforts in the past haven't generated the most promising results for Starbucks, and investors can only hope that current plans will pan out better.

Source: Starbucks.

Also, Starbucks needs to ensure that it doesn't trip over itself with its growth plans. For instance, pushing super-premium products can boost margins, but it also runs the risk of overwhelming baristas during peak hours. So far, Starbucks has worked to promote more labor-intensive products when traffic is less intense, making the most of times of day that have traditionally had lower sales. Yet, if products become popular, it could be difficult for Starbucks to keep giving customers exactly what they want when they want it while sustaining current quality levels.

Starbucks has demonstrated a long-term ability to grow, with average five-year revenue growth of 11% translating into even faster annualized gains in net income, even after taking into account one-time items that helped the company in 2014. With Schultz at the helm and committed workers driving it forward, Starbucks has the ability to post even greater gains both in 2015 and in future years.

The article Starbucks in 2015: How Much Buzz Does the Stock Have Left? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Keurig Green Mountain and Starbucks. The Motley Fool owns shares of Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.