Oppenheimer analysts are out with quarterly earnings spins as two volatile movers-and-shakers rumble their way up and down the needle today in Wall Street: Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) and First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR). In one corner, Brian Bittner is not one of the investors fleeing the scene as Starbucks stock suffers a real low point today after an apprehension-inducing guidance cut for the year (again). In the other corner, Colin Rusch continues to play it safe on First Solar even as shareholders party in the Street today amid an exciting outlook lift for the year- the opposite of Starbuck’s fate.
Let’s take a closer look:
Starbucks Takes Worst Hit in 2 Years, But Oppenheimer Not Running Away
Starbucks shares are crashing almost 9%, the caffeine giant’s starkest crash in almost two years running after sharply disappointing with yet another guidance gut for EPS this year. Additionally, say goodbye to all Teavana stores, as the company is reeling along with the Street, with investors in fast retreat in a chaotic third-quarter earnings upshot.
Nonetheless, Oppenheimer’s Brian Bittner may pull back on estimates for 2017, but has not lost all faith in the giant just yet, reiterating an Outperform rating on shares of SBUX with a $65 price target, which represents a 19% increase from where the stock is currently trading. (To watch Bittner’s track record, click here)
For 2017, Bittner subsequently has decreased his expectations for EPS, taking his $2.10 forecast down to $2.06 to align with outlook. For the fourth quarter, the analyst now angles for +3.0% in his comp projection. Meanwhile, Bittner’s 2018 EPS expectations have stepped back from $2.43 to $2.35, albeit still indicating 14% growth as well as a 4.5% SSS domestically.
After indicating a 5% US comp for the third quarter, the caffeine giant’s management team moved fourth-quarter expectations down to a range between 3% and 4% considering trends that closed out the third quarter and circling into July. One key issue for the giant lies in its non-loyalty and digital customers, to which Bittner attributes the investor stampede today. The analyst points out, “We believe the customers that are not loyalty/digital (65% of sales) are trending below-average and causing the shortfall. SBUX needs to either find a way to convert them to rewards-membership or rejuvenate them.”
When looking ahead to 2018, the analyst projects Starbucks will bring in EPS growth of 10%, which would underperform the Street’s expectations calling for 15%. “Mgmt has also explained to us that ’18 represents another investment year that will look similar to ’17,” notes Bittner.
Overall, the analyst sees some short-term struggles, even if long-term, investors could use this “jittery” outlook to a buyer’s advantage, concluding, “EPS guidance was lowered again for ’17, despite in-line results. The culprit is slowing domestic SSS into 4Q (to the 3-4% range). Without 5%+ SSS, the model’s ability to generate mid-teens earnings growth is low given SBUX’s commitment to several investments. Under current trends, we believe ’18 EPS growth would be closer to 10%-ish, versus Street’s 15% and we lower our estimates. While longer-term investors could look to take advantage of the pull-back, we do believe stock has high likelihood of remaining below-$60 through year-end.”
TipRanks analytics exhibit SBUX as a Strong Buy. Out of 19 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, 16 are bullish on Starbucks stock while 3 remain sidelined. With a return potential of 20%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $65.67.
First Solar Impresses with Brightened, Bolstered 2017 Guidance
First Solar are whirring on the rise to the tune of close to 8% thanks to a second quarter showing that proved to outclass expectations, thanks to stellar project pricing as well as a one-time tax benefit. Likewise, investors of the solar panel maker grew more confident after the management team lifted guidance, taking under account upgraded project price.
Though certainly encouraged, Oppenheimer analyst Colin Rusch continues to survey with optimism from the sidelines, reiterating a Perform rating on shares of FSLR without listing a price target. (To watch Rusch’s track record, click here)
For the second quarter, the solar panel maker posted $623 million in revenue, handily outperforming consensus expectations of $572 million. Moreover, gross margin joined the outclass, reaching 17.8% that towered ahead of the Street’s 14.1% projection. Another home run for First Solar lies in GAAP EPS for the quarter that reaped $0.50, racing ahead of consensus of ($0.07), that takes under account a one-time tax benefit of $0.40.
For 2017, the FSLR team lifted its outlook, taking GAAP EPS from a range of ($0.30) to $0.40 up to a new range of $1.55 to $2.20, beating consensus of $0.57. Additionally, management hiked revenue from a prior range of $2.85 to $.95 up to $3.0 to $3.1 billion, topping consensus of $2.90 billion. Gross margin also rose from former expectations of 12.5% to 14.5% up to 17% to 18%, trouncing consensus of 13.1%. CFO guidance surged from $350 million to $450 million way up to $850 million to $950 million, heavily outperforming the Street’s forecast looking for $379 million.
In reaction, the analyst has shifted his 2017 revenue estimate from $3.18 billion to $3.07 billion, likewise taking gross margin from 14.2% to 17.2%, and EPS from $0.60 to $1.95, commending improvements in project pricing and the tax benefit upper hand.
Rusch contends, “FSLR also indicated it was considering plans to run its Series 4 manufacturing lines for an extended period of time, but had not made final plans to do so. We would not be surprised to see FSLR wait until September to make a final decision after the International Trade Commission concludes if there were damages in the Section 201 trade case. We would expect our estimates to move higher on that announcement, noting we already anticipate some increased production in our estimates. We expect shares to move higher at least into mid/late September in anticipation of positive news on the trade case.”
Praising the company’s Series 6 as FSLR’s priority, the analyst underscores, “The company also indicated that a significant portion of the ramp would be in Vietnam to allow for the option to run its Malaysia Series 4 capacity longer to meet incremental demand.”
Even with the Section 201 decision lingering “large” in the distance, the analyst concludes, “Bookings pipeline progress is impressive […] We believe Section 201 anxiety and compelling project economics for solar + storage are driving demand.”
TipRanks analytics reveal FSLR as a Buy. Based on 13 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, 6 rate a Buy on First Solar stock while 7 maintain a Hold. The 12-month average price target stands at $46.25, marking a nearly 4% downside from where the stock is currently trading.