Credit Suisse Remains Sidelined on Starbucks Corporation (SBUX) Following Meeting with Management

Credit Suisse analyst Jason West spoke with Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) management on Tuesday and found CFO Scott Maw and Vice President of IR Tom Shaw to be confident for the caffeine giant’s guidance this quarter. However, West remains cautious following the aftermath of disruption with the My Starbucks Reward (MSR) program mid-April. In light of mixed views, West reiterates a Neutral rating and suggests a price target of $58.

While Starbucks is expected to report fiscal fourth-quarter earnings on November 3West predicts the company to guide toward the lower end of a 15-20% LT EPS growth target on account of higher labor costs and a continued rise in digital investments. For now, Starbucks waits to finalize its 2017 guidance plans. West considers the 15-17% growth in EPS guidance would land EPS in the range of $2.10 to $2.13, based on a 52-week frame for 2016. Currently, the Street’s estimate is $2.17, slightly over West’s unchanged projection of $2.13.

More personalized offers and suggestive selling for MSR members, who make up a third of Starbuck’s sales, are on their way, which West considers a chance at significant driving momentum in the upcoming quarters. New tech partner “Takt” was brought on this year to support these efforts at personalization and marketing. After issues with MSR’s program, Starbucks is focused on regrouping.

West notes that management expressed, “This is “not a layup”, that the company still “has some work to do” and that this will require solid execution against upcoming marketing plans and continued lift from MSR and MOP. Our sense is that SBUX had returned to the 5% SSS trend by July, after a slow start to F3Q.” As Starbucks navigates the rough waters of upsurges in minimum wage, tough labor markets, all while still hoping to uphold the same aspirations for solid execution and success, West still recognizes consolidated earnings opportunities well after next year. Even battling the weight of rising labor and occupancy costs, West sees potential.

According to TipRanks, 4-star rated analyst Jason West is ranked #585 out of 4,085 analysts. West upholds a 53% success rate and averages 6.4% in his annual returns. When recommending Starbucks, West earns an average of 27.3% in profits.

TipRanks analytics shows SBUX is a Strong Buy. Out of all the analysts who have rated Starbucks in the past 3 months, 84% rate a Buy and 16% rate a Hold. The 12-month average price target is $66.18, marking an 18% increase from where the shares last closed.

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