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Dunkin' strikes back in the coffee scale wars with Starbucks - but it has a lot of catching up to do

7 months ago by Jon Marino in

For the last 12 months, the strength and trajectory of Starbucks ($NYSE:SBUX) has been bulletproof - so strong, in fact, that objectively one of the most poorly-conceived Democratic presidential campaigns of the Internet era from its founder couldn't begin to slow the Seattle coffee titan's roll. Now, Dunkin ($NASDAQ:DNKN), the 'Biggie' in this East Coast-West Coast coffee war, is firing back as both companies prepare for earnings Thursday July 25. 

Dunkin is heading into earnings with higher expectations in part thanks to Wedbush Securities analysts who bumped up both their price target and rating for the Massachusetts coffee chain. Shares are up about 11% over the last 12 months, although Dunkin's performance in 2019 has been especially strong. Our first chart checks on Dunkin's scale - store growth rose about 2.25% this quarter, or a little more than 9,600 stores - a small step as it remains far behind Starbucks, with a little more than 30,000 locations, according to our data (not shown). 

And while Starbucks maintains a massive size advantage, it's social scale is a little bit lacking. Despite gaining an astounding 77% on public markets over the last 12 months, Starbucks is seeing likes as tracked by Facebook ($NASDAQ:FB) begin to decline beginning January 2018. It may not matter, the company has nearly 37 million likes, anyway. 

The next chart tracks Dunkin's social engagement, for the same metric. The good news is that Dunkin's trajectory maintains upward - the bad news is that it remains roughly 34 million likes off Starbucks' pace, which, to provide perspective, would require all of the states of Pennsylvania and New York liking Dunkin in one shot to get it caught up. Analysts may like Dunkin right now, and it may be growing - but Starbucks' scale to the Massachusetts coffee chain give it an enormous advantage right now. 

Analysts tracked by Zacks Investment Research are looking for EPS of $0.82 for Dunkin. As for Starbucks, it will report earnings July 25 - and there, a similar grouping of analysts is looking for EPS of $0.73. 

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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Jon Marino

Jon Marino is Thinknum's finance editor, covering the impacts of alternative data on public companies and investors. Prior to joining Thinknum, Jon worked in the ...

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