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Stock Analyst Update

Starbucks Poised for Post-COVID-19 Growth Acceleration

We see several ways that the company is positioned to take market share.

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We expect investor sentiment on wide-moat Starbucks will start to shift away from the pace of its COVID-19-related recovery and instead focus on its post-pandemic growth potential following third-quarter results that matched its mid-June update and a relatively upbeat outlook for the fourth quarter and fiscal 2021. While it still lags many QSR chains due to morning commute disruptions and its experience-focused formats, we see several ways that Starbucks is positioned to take market share in a specialty coffee category that will likely be hit harder than many other restaurant subcategories.

First, it is finding ways to give consumers greater access. In the past, we've been constructive on plans to increase drive-thru and pickup locations in several key markets, but strategic initiatives such as digitally enabled curbside pick-up at 700-1,000 locations by the end of the fourth quarter will give consumers even greater access to the brand. Second, digital capabilities (mobile ordering, loyalty program, and delivery capabilities) have kept sales trends ahead of most small specialty coffee chains, a trend we expect to accelerate in fiscal 2021. Finally, because Starbucks continues to invest more heavily in its business than peers (employee wages and benefits, other COVID-19-related safety measures), we expect it will face fewer operating issues over the near term (even if profits lag sales in fiscal 2021, as CFO Pat Grismer pointed out).

Management's updated 2020 outlook calling for global comp declines of 12%-17%, an implied revenue decline in the low double digits, and adjusted EPS of $0.83-$0.98 per share appear realistic. However, based on increased confidence in future comp growth via access and digital initiatives as well as accelerating new unit openings, we plan to raise our five-year average annual revenue growth outlook to almost 9% (up from 8%). This will increase our $86 fair value estimate by $4-$5 per share, and we view shares as undervalued.

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R.J. Hottovy does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.

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