The quick-serve restaurant space has been serving up an interesting — and choppy — earnings season. Hot or cold? Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) is currently among the hot, having reported quarterly results that investors loved last night.
Hot, hot, hot
Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX)‘ third-quarter operating income increased 25% to $615.2 million, or $0.55 per share. Total sales jumped 13% to $3.7 billion. Global comparable-store sales increased 8%, with 7% of that made up of all-important traffic growth. Lower costs, for example for coffee, also fed into the cafe giant’s improved profitability.
In the company’s press release, CEO and founder Howard Schultz described the company’s digital, card, loyalty, and mobile initiatives as creating a “flywheel” effect that is increasing momentum for growth and profitability.
Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) also mentions initiatives investors can feel strongly about. The current yogurt craze is pretty obvious, and Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) isn’t missing the boat. Its recent announcement that it’s teaming up with Danone to provide Greek yogurt parfaits sounds probiotically positive, for example; those parfaits will be co-branded with the company’s juicing unit, Evolution Fresh.
Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) isn’t backing away from its strange bedfellows, either. It’s expanding its partnership with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (NASDAQ:GMCR), having shipped its one-billionth Starbucks- and Tazo-branded K-Cup in the quarter for the Keurig single-serve beverage machine.
In another forward move into food, Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) is further increasing its offering of La Boulange products in stores, now counting 1,076 cafes carrying the baked goods.
Starbucks’ success in bringing in the customer traffic echoes that of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG), which recently re-established itself in investors’ good graces with its quarterly results. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG)’s comps increased 5%, and again, this was mostly due to more customers darkening its doorsteps — a very bullish sign, among others.
When the bread doesn’t rise
When it comes to hot and not, though, one quick-serve concept’s stock has had a rough week. Panera Bread Co (NASDAQ:PNRA) shares took a beating after its quarterly results disappointed investors. Same-store sales increasing 3.8% caused that bread’s failure to rise, since analysts had expected a 4.5% bump.
Starbucks is clearly on a roll right now, as is Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG). Is it time to buy either of those darlings? At this moment, count to 10 before pulling the trigger. Cautious investors who get nauseated by stock prices’ ups and downs might want to wait until traders (and prices) cool down a little bit.