Punished in the market, partly as a result of it’s Drive-Thru program.

Rothman ridiculed Starbucks for expanding its drive-through program, and rightfully so. Starbucks is more than just a java peddler. It’s a lifestyle pimp. Transforming the $3 latte experience into something akin to McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) or Burger King (NYSE: BKC) — two chains that just happen to have upgraded their bean brews recently — is ridiculous. Folks pay a premium at Starbucks because the place is a treat for the senses. The aromatic bliss of flavored grounds fills the nostrils. The jazzy tunes soothe the eardrums. Premium coffee doesn’t have to compete against the smell of deep-fried onion rings or the din of unruly Happy-Meal addicts blazing for the ball pit.

Sadly, Starbucks’ pursuit of domestic growth has stooped that low. Now that the chain is testing out baked eats, putting out rock CDs, and installing drive-through speakers, is anyone sure what kind of lifestyle the company will be pitching in the future?

I can’t commit to Buckley’s call, though, because Starbucks shares are as cheap as its brews are not. Even with slowing growth, it’s hard to pass on Starbucks when it’s trading for less than 19 times this new year’s profit targets (and less than 16 times next year’s projected earnings). The stateside challenges are real, but so is the overseas potential.

Besides, if the value-minded burger chains like McDonald’s and Burger King found ways to transform into growth stocks in recent years, I trust that Starbucks will also find its way back — assuming it’s even left that cozy spot in the first place. 

 

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