Green Mountain Smokes the Skeptics


Wall Street and Starbucks love Green Mountain Coffee Roasters .

They really, really love Green Mountain.

Shares of the company behind the Keurig single-serve brewing system soared after Green Mountain posted blowout earnings and expanded its K-Cup distribution deal with Starbucks.

Let's start with the financials.

Net sales climbed 14% to top $1 billion, just shy of the 16% top-line spurt that the pros were targeting. A 10% slide in brewer sales held back the 21% uptick in K-Cup and Vue packs.

The silver lining in the product mix shifting to single-serve packs and away from the brewers that Green Mountain essentially sells at cost is that margins will expand nicely in that scenario. Sure enough, adjusted net income catapulted 45% to $0.93 a share, well ahead of the $0.73 a share that Wall Street was forecasting. The product mix was a factor, but the bigger reasons for the bottom-line surge were favorable green coffee costs and Green Mountain's push to buy back shares when the stock was sluggish during the final few months of 2012.

Green Mountain has repurchased nearly 8 million shares since September at an average price of $25.32 a share. Shrewd move now that the stock has gone on to more than double.

As you can imagine, Green Mountain is jacking up its earnings outlook for the balance of the fiscal year. Green Mountain now expects adjusted earnings of $3.05 a share to $3.15 a share in this fiscal year ending in September. The 27% to 31% bottom-line pop comes at a time when analysts only projected net income of $2.84 a share. Even the most bullish of the 11 major analysts tracking the company only saw a profit of $2.92 a share.

Net sales will only grow at an 11% to 14% clip for the fiscal year -- off Green Mountain's goal of annual 15% to 20% growth -- but there was an extra week in fiscal 2012. Without the week, net sales would be climbing as high as 17% this year.

As for Starbucks, the two companies have been K-Cup buddies for more than two years, but an expanded deal will triple the number of Starbucks products sold in K-Cup and Vue form for a minimum of the next five years.

Green Mountain has struck plenty of deals with big brands, and the names keep coming. It was Unilever moving to get its Lipton tea brand into hot and iced portion packs through Green Mountain just two months ago, joining most of the coffee, tea, and cocoa heavies that have already partnered with the Vermont-based master of single-serve brews. However, there is clearly no name in coffee bigger than Starbucks.

Green Mountain still has a long way to go before reclaiming its all-time highs of 2011, but blasting through the ceiling of its 52-week high on the double shot of good news will do just fine for now.

Cool beans
With Green Mountain as cheap as it's ever been, many investors are wondering whether this is the end of the former market darling or the perfect entry point for an enormous rebound. You can find our recommendation for how to play the company in our premium research report. In it, you'll find everything you need to know about Green Mountain, including whether it's a buy at today's prices. Click here for instant access.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. The Motley Fool recommends Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Unilever. It recommends and owns shares of Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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