Dec 21, 2023

The coffee chain has been under pressure due to politics and unionization.


SBUX – Daily Chart

The price of SBUX trades at $97.72, with support at $95 and $89.32 on further weakness.

Some consumers have been boycotting the company since October after it sued Workers United, which organizes its employees, due to the union posting a pro-Palestinian message on social media.

Starbucks wanted to halt the union using its name and logo, saying the company had no official stance on the war, but the company has taken criticism on the matter.

Some stores were vandalized, and Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan wrote an open letter against the protests in the US and abroad.

“While I am grateful for so much, I am concerned about the state of the world we live in. There are conflicts in many parts. It has unleashed violence against the innocent, hate and weaponized speech and lies — all of which we condemn,” he wrote. “Our stance is clear. We stand for humanity.”

Seattle-based Starbucks has yet to say how it has impacted sales. The company’s subsequent quarterly earnings will come out in February. But there are indications the company is seeing a hit to sales.

In early December, J.P. Morgan analyst John Ivankoe lowered his US sales forecast for Starbucks’ fiscal first quarter, saying holiday sales appeared to be slower than promotions in the fall. Starbucks’ shares dropped on the news while videos on X showed protests and empty stores in London, Australia, Dubai, and others.

Starbucks has since offered more deals than usual to draw customers, like half-price Thursday drinks.

It’s a reversal of fortune for Starbucks after it reported record sales in its latest quarter and said growth was accelerating in China.

The company has also faced strike issues due to the union, with workers at 370 company-owned stores voting to unionize since late 2021, but the company has not confirmed a contract with them. Workers walked out at several stores in December, and this month, the union is urging consumers not to buy the company’s gift cards.

SBUX shares could see further pressure into its February report and beyond if there are signs of slowing sales.

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