They say that patience is a virtue, one that many simply do not have. While it's only natural for people to want instant results, faster isn't always better. That same idea applies to investing. In a financial world full of high frequency traders and short-term goals, it seems like the big picture becomes a little blurry. Long-term investors are now seen as an endangered species, dying out slowly in the wake of the new age of instant everything.
But for those of you out there who dare to invest in a company, and not just trade stock like old baseball cards, there are companies out there that suit your investing needs. Just as a last bit of reassurance, think about this Buffett quote: "Only buy something that you'd be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years." If Buffett said it, then there must be some truth to it.
The company that I believe will serve you well for the next 10 years is a little coffee company that you may have heard of, Starbucks Corporation (SBUX). Not surprisingly, the company that operates those coffee shops that you see at practically every single corner is doing quite well. After all, everybody needs coffee, right? It's difficult to imagine life without it. And here's what I like best about Starbucks (and what some hate most): the company doesn't just sell coffee, but is venturing into the constantly expanding markets of premium juices and fresh baked goods. When Starbucks announced the acquisition of French bakery La Boulange earlier this year, I admit that I was absolutely shocked after hearing the price tag. I mean, $100 million is a nice chunk of change, especially considering that the company was purchasing a lowly 19 locations of French fancy. But just look at what Starbucks has done to the coffee industry, why not do the same to the bakery or juice industries? And if you thought that was all, then you're wrong. Remember Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (GMCR)? Well, Starbucks is getting in on that game too; the Verismo coffeemaker is meant for those homebodies who don't want to go all the way down the street to wait in line at Starbucks, but rather brew their own coffee in the comfort of their home.
So far things sound pretty good; but let's look at the other side of this. One might say the dark side. Like I said earlier, coffee is great: the fuel that gets us through the day, the liquid that makes the world go 'round. But is it $3.95 great? Really, all you're paying for is some hot water with some bean juice and maybe a dash of milk. And, once in a while, a few dollars here and a few dollars there probably won't put too big of a dent in your wallet; but in a down economy, you can be sure that people will be saving that coffee money for something of better use. Another negative for investors is the increasing consumer antipathy towards large corporations, which has been especially heightened since the recent financial crises. Many people, myself included, would rather support the scarce mom and pop coffee shops that have to compete with large corporations, like Starbucks or even Peet's Coffee (PEET). Another concern to consider is that there's a slight chance that Starbucks' bet on Evolution Fresh Juice and La Boulange bakery might not play out as well as expected. These are all scary things to think about as an investor, but still plausible.
How about some numbers to clear things up?
Market Cap: $34.86 billion
Current Share Price: $45.87
52 Week Range: $40.55-$62.00
Trailing P/E: 25.48
Profit Margin: 10.67%
Qtrly Revenue Growth (yoy): 12.7%
Qtrly Earnings Growth (yoy): 19.3%
Total Cash: $2.5 billion
Total Debt: $549 million
Dividend (%): $0.68 (1.5%)
With such a high-flying price/earnings multiple, the stock might seem a little pricey; but it has been beaten down by about 25% since mid-April, so this could be a great buying opportunity. And for a growth company, a 1.5% yield shouldn't be anything to whine about. The company also has a rock solid balance sheet along with respectable margins.
All that being considered, it's time for a decision to be made. Personally, I feel that the pros heavily outweigh the cons. From a long term perspective, expansion into emerging markets and different businesses will lead to high returns in the long run. Let the business lead, and the market returns follow, no matter how slow they may be. If the market shut down for 10 years, I think that I'd be perfectly happy to hold onto some Starbucks stock, wouldn't you?