Wake Up And Smell The Next Starbucks

by: Marc Courtenay

You may recall the 2006 best-selling book "Finding the Next Starbucks" by Michael Moe.

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) debuted in 1992 with its IPO, which immediately gave it a market cap of around $220 million.

Let the chart below serve as a visual picture of what a great company and investment it turned out to be.

Chart forStarbucks Corporation (<a href=

Today at $55.48 per share, it has a market cap of almost $42 billion and its success formula is as sterling as ever. The price of the shares today and the coffee is a little "rich" for my taste.

What I want us to do is to find the next SBUX while the shares and market price are more promising with rich potential.

Two companies that most likely won't fit that description are Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (KKD) and Green Mountain Coffee Roaster (NASDAQ:GMCR).

At least KKD has addictive doughnuts to sell. GMCR and Caribou Coffee Company (NASDAQ:CBOU) are companies struggling to thrive, this according to a report released Monday May 7th.

"Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is recognized as a leader in specialty coffee and coffee makers, and acknowledged for its award-winning coffees, innovative brewing technology, and environmentally and socially responsible business practices", according to The Paragon Report

Shares of the company fell to a 52-week low of $24.03, and this short-selling target is under siege and ought to fight back. The question is how? Perhaps they'll be acquired by a winning management team?

Caribou Coffee Company is the second largest company-owned premium coffeehouse operator in the United States based on the number of coffeehouses.

They recently reported financial results for the first quarter of 2012. Net sales for the quarter of $80.5 million increased $8.3 million, or 11.4%, from $72.3 million in the comparable quarter of 2011. The company hit estimates but GAAP results lagged.

Compared to GMCR's $3.8 billion market cap, CBOU is a tiny $253 million dollar company. Will they be the next SBUX? Probably not, but they should be kept on our radar screen.

My personal favorite candidate for the next SBUX is Dunkin'Brands Group (NASDAQ:DNKN). Here's what they say about themselves and their history:

Built on more than 50 years of innovation and fun, Dunkin' Brands, Inc. leads and builds great brands at the forefront of the Quick Quality segment of the food and beverage industry. Familiar, yet fresh, like a good cup of coffee, Dunkin' Brands goes beyond fast food to deliver value, experience, and hospitality. And it does it by developing best-in-class menu items to eat and drink, and by thinking about opportunities just a little bit differently than the other guys.

If you've had any experience with a Dunkin'Doughnut shop, you know this isn't just idle bragging. They have really good doughnuts, delicious coffee and all reasonably priced. They have a customer-friendly culture.

Check out their "pressroom" for their announcements, earnings and press releases. They have attainable international goals and a growth prospect that is credible with the investment community.

They're making their India debut on Tuesday May 8th and that's one of the reasons their stock is priced at a ridiculous 63 times current earnings and 23 times forward earnings.

Pride Cometh Before the Fall

DNKN has a lot to be proud of, but I wouldn't overpay if I were you. I remember what happened to KKD, and there was even a time when SBUX fell off a cliff and almost didn't recover.

DNKN will eventually go "on sale" with the rest of the stock market over the months and years ahead, and we may be able to buy at much lower prices if we're really patient.

To find the next SBUX, I'd keep an ear and an eye on great research organizations like Michael Moe's old firm ThinkEquity Partners.

You might also get lucky and discover by personal experience the next Chiptole Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) or some other newly public shooting star or spin-off (it's easy to forget that CMG was spun off by McDonald's).

Finding and paying for great research is the most likely way to find the next big stock winner. You might begin by buying a copy of Moe's book at Amazon.com.

I remember when Jeff Bezo's started Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). How I wish I had some in depth analysis and insight on the potential there. But I didn't at the time.

It's another example of great companies whose greatness wasn't obvious in their early years.

Find great sources of reliable information and connect with them. It's easier said then done, but you can start locally by developing a relationship with a regional brokerage firm like Stifel-Nicolaus (NYSE:SF).

Many regional brokerage firms survive by maintaining an exceptional research department. Ask several in your area to give you some samples of their reports and their success record in finding winners.

To find the next Starbucks you have to start somewhere. Determine if you're willing to put in the time and pay the price. Then, if you're fully committed, get started and be exceedingly patient.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.