Starbucks' (SBUX) Q4 Earnings: Americas, CAP Hold the Baton

Starbucks CorporationSBUX is scheduled to report fourth-quarter fiscal 2018 results on Nov 1, after the closing bell. In the last reported quarter, the company's earnings surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 3.3%. The bottom line either outpaced or matched the estimate in the trailing four quarters, resulting in an average beat of 4.3%.

How are Estimates Faring?

Let's look at earnings estimate revisions in order to get a clear picture of what analysts are thinking about this coffee-chain giant prior to the release. For the quarter under review, the Zacks Consensus Estimate is pegged at 59 cents, flat over the past 30 days. This reflects a gain of more than 7% from 55 cents in the year-ago quarter. Revenues are expected to come in at $6,198 million, up nearly 9% year over year.

China-Asia-Pacific & Americas to Drive Top Line

Starbucks, which has reported top-line growth in the first, second quarter and third quarter of fiscal 2018, is anticipated to continue with the momentum in the fourth quarter as well. Revenues in the quarter are likely to be driven by robust Americas and China-Asia-Pacific (CAP) sales. Also, new store additions, expansion in China and positive global comparable store sales are likely to aid the company's results.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for revenues at the Americas, CAP and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) segments is likely to witness year-over-year growth of 5.5%, 44.3% and 5.2%, respectively. Meanwhile, Starbucks brand is gaining popularity across Asia as it is increasingly investing in the Asian markets. In fact, management believes that China and the Asia-Pacific region will drive much more meaningful business growth over the next five years. The company has plans to build 600 net new stores annually in Mainland China during the same period.

The company is also expected to experience comps growth in the fiscal fourth quarter. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for comps growth is pegged at nearly 2%. Notably, beverage innovations have been a significant contributor to comps growth for Starbucks over the years. Seasonal offerings like pumpkin spice latte have been in the market for 10 years now and are quite popular now.

These apart, Starbucks secured a leading position to leverage its mobile and digital assets, and loyalty and e-Commerce platforms for capitalizing on these trends and create more revenue streams. Undoubtedly, the company's mobile app is now one of the most widely used mobile payment app in the United States. Mobile payments represented 13% of U.S. transactions in the fiscal third quarter. This initiative allows customers to order before arriving at a Starbucks café and pick up the items at their selected Starbucks store, thus saving time. The service is witnessing increased usage and proving to be a key growth driver as adoption continues to increase.

Margins Likely to Disappoint

Decline in margins has been a major concern for Starbucks. The company's non-GAP operating margin, which witnessed a sharp decline of 170 bps, 80 bps and 230 bps in the first, second and the third quarter of fiscal 2018, respectively, is likely to continue with the downtrend. The margin contraction over the past few quarters can be primarily attributed to rise in costs due to investment in digitalization, product mix shift, increased spending in its store partners (employees) along with the impact of the company's ownership change in the East China business. For fiscal 2018, management expects a moderate decline in operating margin, reflecting additional partner and digital investments.

Starbucks Corporation Price and EPS Surprise

Starbucks Corporation Price and EPS Surprise | Starbucks Corporation Quote

Our Model Suggests a Beat

According to the Zacks model, a company with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) has a good chance of beating estimates if it also has a positive Earnings ESP . Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) or 5 (Strong Sell) stocks are best avoided, especially if they have a negative Earnings ESP. You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they're reported with our Earnings ESP Filter .

Starbucks has an Earnings ESP of +1.04% and a Zacks Rank #3, a combination that increases the odds of an earnings beat this quarter. You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank stocks here .

Stocks With Favorable Combination

Here are a few other stocks from the Restaurant space that investors may consider as our model shows that they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat.

The Wendy's Company WEN has an Earnings ESP of +0.84% and a Zacks Rank #2.

Shake Shack Inc. SHAK has an Earnings ESP of +8.17% and a Zacks Rank of 3.

Jack in the Box Inc. JACK has an Earnings ESP of +3.18% and a Zacks Rank of 3.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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