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Should Value Investors Buy Starbucks (SBUX) Stock?

Pershing Square Capital Management recently released its Q2 2020 Investor Letter, a copy of which you can download here. The fund posted a return of 28.9% during the first half of 2020, outperforming its benchmark, the S&P 500 Index which returned -3.1% in the same period. You should check out Pershing Square’s top 5 stock picks for investors to buy right now, which could be the biggest winners of the stock market crash.

In the said letter, Pershing Square highlighted a few stocks and Starbucks Corp (NASDAQ:SBUX) is one of them. Starbucks Corp (NASDAQ:SBUX) is a chain of coffeehouses and roastery reserves. Year-to-date, Starbucks Corp (NASDAQ:SBUX) stock lost 3.9% and on August 31st it had a closing price of $84.47. Here is what Pershing Square said:

“In January, we exited our position in Starbucks after generating a 73% total shareholder return during our initial 19-month investment in the company.c At the time of our exit, Starbucks was performing strongly after a successful turnaround of its business under CEO Kevin Johnson and his team, and while Covid-19 had emerged in China, the virus had not yet impacted the company’s share price.

In March, shortly after our exit, the stock declined substantially along with the broader market, providing an opportunity for us to repurchase our stake in the company at a highly attractive valuation. Despite short-term sales headwinds from Covid-19, Starbucks remains one of the world’s best businesses, which we believe will emerge even stronger from the current crisis. Starbucks results reported since we re-established our position have demonstrated that the company’s recovery plan is working. The company’s stock price has begun to reflect its business progress generating a total shareholder return of 39% from our average cost to repurchase our stake in the company.

Given the company’s leading presence in China, Starbucks was well-prepared for the arrival of Covid-19 in the U.S. After an outstanding start to the calendar year with same-store sales growth between 6% and 7% through mid-March, the company rapidly shifted to a drive-thru and delivery-only model. With 44% of the store base open, April same-store sales declined and bottomed at negative 65%. As management steadily reopened both locations and in-store ordering, same-store sales improved to negative 14% in July, with 96% of stores open. The sales recovery has been driven by store re-openings and underlying sales momentum, with same-store sales of stores open throughout the year improving from a low of negative 25% in April, to positive 2% in July. The recovery path in the U.S. closely parallels what Starbucks has achieved in China, albeit with a lag of about one quarter given the later arrival of the virus in U.S.

Starbucks is taking longer to recover than our other restaurant companies given that the brand generates 50% of sales from breakfast, a daypart which is geared towards work and school commuting routines. We believe that the company’s long-term earnings power, however, is undiminished, and that recent developments have left Starbucks in perhaps its strongest-ever competitive position, underpinned by the company’s leading digital ecosystem both in the U.S. and globally, as well as the demise of its key competitor, Luckin Coffee, in China. Management is playing offense by investing in key growth initiatives including digital, with the loyalty program set to receive another major upgrade this fall, new store formats such as pickuponly locations, and menu innovation including plant-based beverages and food. Management has cited improving speed of service at the drive-thru as the largest potential driver for increasing near-term sales.”

Last week, we published an article revealing that Starbucks Corp (NASDAQ:SBUX) stock decreased by about 15% in the trailing year. The stock underperformed the S&P 500 Index during the same period.

In Q2 2020, the number of bullish hedge fund positions on Starbucks Corp (NASDAQ:SBUX) stock decreased by about 21% from the previous quarter (see the chart here), so a number of other hedge fund managers don’t seem to agree with Starbucks’ growth potential. Our calculations showed that Starbucks Corp (NASDAQ:SBUX) isn’t ranked among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds.

The top 10 stocks among hedge funds returned 185% since the end of 2014 and outperformed the S&P 500 Index ETFs by more than 109 percentage points. We know it sounds unbelievable. You have been dismissing our articles about top hedge fund stocks mostly because you were fed biased information by other media outlets about hedge funds’ poor performance. You could have doubled the size of your nest egg by investing in the top hedge fund stocks instead of dumb S&P 500 ETFs. Below you can watch our video about the top 5 hedge fund stocks right now. All of these stocks had positive returns in 2020.

Video: Top 5 Stocks Among Hedge Funds

At Insider Monkey we scour multiple sources to uncover the next great investment idea. We go through lists like the 10 most profitable companies in America to pick the best large-cap stocks to buy. Even though we recommend positions in only a tiny fraction of the companies we analyze, we check out as many stocks as we can. We read hedge fund investor letters and listen to stock pitches at hedge fund conferences. If you want to find out the best healthcare stock to buy right now, you can watch our latest hedge fund manager interview here. You can subscribe to our free enewsletter below to receive our stories in your inbox:

Disclosure: None. This article is originally published at Insider Monkey.