On Wednesday, Starbucks Corporation CEO Kevin Johnson announced he is retiring after five years in the position. While the coffee retailer searches for a permanent replacement for Johnson, Starbucks founder and former two-time CEO Howard Schultz will return as interim chief executive.
Schultz previously served as Starbucks CEO from 1986 to 2000 and then again from 2008 to 2017. Starbucks said it hopes to hire a permanent CEO by the fall. One of Schultz’s primary challenges this year will be to navigate the company’s labor situation. Roughly 140 Starbucks stores in 26 U.S. states have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to unionize, and six locations have already voted in favor of a union.
Schultz’s stint as CEO comes on a voluntary basis, and he will be paid just $1 for his services.
Stephens analyst James Rutherford said Schultz will likely serve an important role in coaching the incoming CEO.
“As the founder and longtime leader of the company (1987–2018), we believe Mr. Schultz will be a steady hand to guide the company during this period,” Rutherford wrote.
Wedbush analyst Nick Setyan said there’s no better interim CEO than Schultz.
“Valuation largely incorporates the risks ahead, and no one is better equipped to captain the Starbucks ship through turbulent waters than Howard Schultz,” Setyan wrote.
Morgan Stanley analyst John Glass said the abruptness of Johnson’s departure was a surprise.
“Ideally, having a permanent successor named before retirement facilitates a seamless transition,” Glass wrote.
MKM Partners analyst Brett Levy said the management shakeup has added some unexpected excitement for Starbucks investors.
“We believe a leadership change has the potential to create some uncertainty, but Mr. Schultz’s re-integration into the company could re-invigorate the brand, aid in the internal dialogues with its partners and other improvements, ahead of an external recovery and new CEO introduction.” Levy wrote.
Credit Suisse analyst Lauren Silberman said Schultz is revered, passionate and uniquely qualified to bridge the company to its new leader.
“While Schultz returned to SBUX as CEO in 2008 to implement a turnaround strategy, it appears his return to the seat now is more of a bridge to give additional timing to identify a successor rather than a transformative event (though a longer return, while unlikely, would be received positively),” Silberman wrote.
Starbucks Ratings, Price Targets
Stephens has an Overweight rating and $125 target.
Wedbush has an Outperform rating and lowered the price target from $106 to $105.
Morgan Stanley has an Equal-Weight rating and $107 target.
MKM Partners has a Buy rating and lowered the price target from $123 to $117.
Credit Suisse has an Outperform rating and $122 target.
By Wayne Duggan
© 2021 The Epoch Times. The Epoch Times does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
Original link : 5 Starbuck Analysts on Howard Schultz’s Return to C-Suite: ‘Steady Hand’