“One dollar for a cup of coffee — they are out of their minds!” my frugal, land-speculating grandfather said when we stopped at the local corner gas station on the way to visit one of his properties.
I wish he would have lived to see the rise of Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) and its $6 cups of coffee. He would have certainly had a few choice words for people like myself who patronize the wildly popular high-end coffee emporium.
Not only did Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) change the way coffee is viewed, but the company has made its investors wealthy. Shares have tripled in value to around $75 over the past three years. This success has spawned a variety of copycat operations. Some of these are established companies that have added gourmet coffee products to their existing lines; others are regional startups.
One Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX)-influenced company that morphed into a gourmet coffee profit-making machine is none other than the once humble Dunkin Brands Group Inc (NASDAQ:DNKN).
|Although the Dunkin’ Donuts brand has been around since 1950, Dunkin’ Brands is relatively young as a public company.|
I was pleasantly surprised that a Dunkin’ Donuts I recently visited in South Carolina offered free Wi-Fi, a lounge area full of leather chairs, a variety of coffee flavors, sandwiches and, of course, donuts that are vastly superior to Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX)’ offerings. During my travels recently, I have noticed Dunkin’ Donuts sprouting up in the same general areas as established Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) locations. This strategy resembles Burger King Worldwide Inc (NYSE:BKW) pursuit of McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD) locations.
I think my grandfather would still believe the prices at Dunkin’ Donuts are too high, but Dunkin Brands Group Inc (NASDAQ:DNKN)’s prices are lower than Starbucks. This lower price point, combined with the wide variety of quality products and coffees, provides a strong incentive for many consumers to favor Dunkin’ Donuts over Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX). This is particularly true when the stores are as comfortable as the newly opened location I recently visited.
I like how Dunkin’ Donuts is operated, its business ideas, and the quality of the products — not to mention the fact that its stock is up nearly 30% this year.
Dunkin’ Brands is close to being a 100% franchised business. This means the owners of the 10,400 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in more than 60 nations (and almost 7,000 Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlors, which Dunkin Brands Group Inc (NASDAQ:DNKN) also franchises) provide the capital for the brand’s expansion.
|Dunkin’ Donuts has morphed into a gourmet coffee profit-making machine.|
This transferring of the expansion costs to the individual franchise owner is a brilliant and powerful means of growth. When compared to Starbucks company-owned and -financed store concept, the expansion potential is clearly on Dunkin’ Brands’ side. While Starbucks’ market cap of more than $53 billion dwarfs Dunkin’ Brands’ less than $5 billion, the innovative nature of Dunkin Brands Group Inc (NASDAQ:DNKN) should close this gap over time.