Starbucks delivers to Empire State Building

If you work in the Empire State Building, you can now get Pumpkin Spice Lattes delivered to your office from a Starbucks kitchen located in the lobby of King Kong's favorite skyscraper. 

Starbucks launched its new Green Apron Delivery service Tuesday, allowing the more than 12,000 workers in the Empire State Building to get their caffeine fix without leaving their desks. 

It remains to be seen if Starbucks will bring this service to other markets anytime soon. For now, the company says it is a "pilot project designed for a dense urban environment."

But investors probably wouldn't mind getting some Starbucks stock delivered to them as well. Starbucks has been even hotter than a steaming cup of Caffè Americano lately.

Shares of Starbucks are up nearly 50% so far this year and trading at an all-time high. 

The company is thriving while rivals Dunkin' Brands and Krispy Kreme struggle. It seems highly unlikely that the new all-day breakfast menu from McDonald's will make much of a dent in Starbucks' sales either.

Starbucks will report its third quarter results later this month and the numbers are expected to be spectacular. Analysts are forecasting a more than 15% jump in both revenue and earnings per share.

So can anything stop Starbucks?

R.J. Hottovy, an analyst with Morningstar, said it's hard to see anything on the near-term horizon that can derail Starbuck's growth. 

With CEO Howard Schultz still calling the (espresso) shots, Hottovy is very confident about the future for Starbucks.

"They have a lot of things going on with delivery, mobile pay and more expansion in consumer packaged goods," Hottovy said. "There are a lot of balls in the air right now and this management team has a great track record of being well ahead of the curve in retail." 

Technology, in particular, has been key for Starbucks. The company has one of the most innovative apps out there, and Starbucks has made a point of hiring executives with high-tech experience.

Earlier this year, Starbucks named Kevin Johnson, the former CEO of Juniper Networks and a veteran of Microsoft and IBM, to be its chief operating officer.

And just last week, Starbucks named Gerri Martin-Flickinger, who had been chief information officer at Adobe, to be its new chief technology officer. Her hire is a sign that Starbucks wants to do even more with data analytics and have an even bigger presence in the cloud.

The move should also lessen the sting of another Starbucks tech exec departure: current Starbucks CIO Curt Garner, who has been with the company since 1998, is leaving next month to become the CIO at Chipotle.

Still, Starbucks isn't a completely risk-free stock. Hottovy said that the company will need to impress Wall Street with its 2016 outlook when it reports earnings later this month. 

The bar is set pretty high. Analysts are predicting sales growth of 11% and profit growth of nearly 20%.

Hottovy added that the company will need to keep an eye on longer-term competition from German conglomerate Joh. A. Benckiser. It owns Peet's and Caribou Coffee and just announced plans to buy the hipster-approved coffee chain Stumptown. 

Joh. A Benckiser also owns the popular European coffee brand D.E Master Blenders 1753.

Then there's the stock's valuation. Starbucks trades for more than 30 times fiscal 2016 earnings estimates. That's a Kopi Luwak type of price. (For those who aren't java snobs, Kopi Luwak is one of the most expensive coffees int the world.)

But one fund manager who owns Starbucks said he's not scared by the stock's recent run. 

"It may sound crazy, but we're still adding to our Starbucks position at the all-time highs," said Gary Bradshaw, a fund manager with Hodges Capital in Dallas. 

Bradshaw said he thinks Starbucks will continue to succeed in newer markets like China, and that margins will improve as well. And he believes the company will hit a new psychological milestone very soon: he predicts that Starbucks will be worth more than McDonald's before long.

Starbucks isn't too far behind. Its market value is $90 billion. McDonald's is currently worth about $97 billion. 

"Sure, I wish Starbucks was cheaper. But if I opened a new fund today, it would be one of the first stocks I'd buy," he said. "I'm not addicted to their coffee ... but there are a lot of people who are."

Share this article: