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Grande Expectations: A Year in the Life of Starbucks' Stock Paperback – September 30, 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Blumenthal, a business journalist with more than 25 years of experience, puts her prodigious talents to work distilling a solid drama from the 2005 stock performance of steaming-hot coffee company Starbucks. Having been given access to the Starbucks' corporate office, the annual shareholders' meeting and other inner sanctums, Blumenthal (Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX) provides an outside expert's colorful, considered viewpoint on the caffeinated personalities behind the company's success, and the stock they propel, during a particularly tumultuous year: Hurricane Stan in Central America, a Starbucks stock split and the IPO of rival Caribou Coffee. Alongside prescient data analysis, Blumenthal provides intriguing glimpses of the culture: "Shareholders huddled around tables bulging with stacks of muffins... and lined up ten deep at espresso bars. Emergency medical personnel actually tended to an older man who appeared to be having heart problems." Blumenthal's transition between statistics and scenes of corporate color can be abrupt, but the intimate detail into which she delves makes this book stand out from the business-profile pack, and it's got enough narrative finesse to make it a fun read for both committed investors and the NYSE-curious.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Booklist

Wall Street Journal bureau chief Blumenthal is a seasoned financial reporter, yet she admits that the stock market mystifies her. Her mission: to follow one stock closely for a year (2005) to gain insights on how the market works, and, ultimately, become a better investor. There could not have been a better choice than Starbucks (stock symbol SBUX). A favorite of the growth investing crowd, it's sexy, yet familiar, a phenomenal achiever that tends to go through stomach-churning gyrations. As the year unfolds, we attend the annual shareholders' meeting, learn the history of Starbucks, and find out the significance of stock buybacks, (legal) insider trading, stock splits, and analysts' reports. We get an inside view on how institutional investors, the big players like mutual funds and hedge funds, value a stock, as these big guns trade in and out of SBUX in blocks of 10,000 or more shares. While managing to take some of the mystery out of the market's machinations, Blumenthal provides insights and tools for the individual investor looking to "take the plunge." David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; Reprint edition (September 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307339726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307339720
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By George Anders on April 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I've been amazed over the years at how many really smart, successful people -- CEOs, doctors, lawyers, etc. -- get utterly flummoxed by the way that the stock market works. Their own investments never do as well as they hoped. And if they have a big personal stake in the financial fate of some company, they're constantly frustrated by Wall Street's apparently fickle treatment of the company's actions and prospects.

For anyone who's been stuck in that quandary -- and haven't we all? -- Karen Blumenthal's book is a ray of sunshine. She astutely focuses on Starbucks, a well-known company that we all "sort of" understand. Then, chapter by chapter, she takes us behind the scenes to show how this company's financial destiny is really being shaped.

Some parts reminded me of a high-stakes judo match. (Short-sellers vs. everyone else.) Other sections read more like the journal of a lone explorer in dangerous territory (Individual investors trying to make the right decisions.) And the book's examination of hedge-fund strategies is like looking at your own blood under a microscope. It's a lucid peek at a hidden world that's packed full of weird action all the time.

For anyone whose life can be helped -- or hurt -- by what happens in the stock market, this is a fascinating and enormously valuable book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I seldom go to Starbucks and can rarely stomach lengthy financial analysis, so I never expected to be so consumed by a book that I just happened across and then couldn't put down. As a liberal-arts-type reader, I was as riveted by this utterly charming biography of a stock as I routinely am by a great man's life story. As originally unappetizing to me as the thought of 300 pages detailing a company's year-long stock performance was the sheer pleasure here of following the author's wide-eyed pursuit of answers about why stocks rise and fall. As Ms. Blumenthal chases down a broad swath of individuals to learn all she could about the history and future prospects for Starbucks, I found the questions she put to Howard Schultz and other company execs, to security analysts and fund managers, to small DIY investors, and to many others, were exactly the kind of questions I wanted asked. Assuming you're not already a full-time securities pro, reading this book -- although it won't instantly certify you as a financial guru -- will, for less than the cost of a few macchiatos and frappucinos, make you far wiser about this amazing company and the ways of the market. Concentrating so deeply on one company enables the author to show how stock buybacks, black-box trading operations, analyst reports, and dozens of other abstract concepts actually work in a real-world case history over an extended period. Thus material that would otherwise seem academic and dry becomes far more palatable and understandable. Kudos to Ms. Blumenthal for wonderful reporting and making stock-tracking acutely interesting and intelligible.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a highly readable and interesting story about a cultural phenomena. The author gives us a "year-in-the life" story about Starbucks and its stock price fluctuations, while engaging the reader in behind the scenes details. She has woven a fascinating story without losing the reader to arcane financial jargon. The book is very balanced and a fun read. I highly recommend it -- Steve
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Format: Hardcover
Steve Forbes reviewed this book and loved it, and I think it appeals equally to people who understand the market well, and those who don't. Blumenthal details all the information you wish you had, but don't have time to gather, when investing in a stock. Mostly, though, it's a fascinating, fun read, and that's the reason to pick it up!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read a number of Ms. Blumenthal's books (most recently, "Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different"), and have found her prose to be really, really terrific. We learn in "Grande Expectations" about the history of Starbucks, she takes us along to a Starbucks shareholders' meeting, and we find out about the significance of stock buybacks, legal insider trading, stock splits, analysts' reports and many other facets of the operation of Starbucks. While I practice securities law and have familiarity with many of these topics, Ms. Blumenthal is very adept at telling a fascinating story. Her book was a real page turner.
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Format: Paperback
There is a world of difference between a company and its stock and this book aims to distinguish the two, which at times, can produce wildly varying perceptions, and Starbucks/SBUX is a prime example. From its humble beginnings in 1984 to its IPO in 1992 to the present, the company/stock has confounded all which has followed it. The author dedicated one year to cover this stock and provides much inner working details of what moves a stock, which all too often does not correlate with the company's performance, perplexing stockholders, analysts and even its own executives. What began as a fad and then an explosion of caffeinated loyalty, its tremendous growth during the 'yuppy' period of the early 90's was understandable, if not predictable. But what has fueled its continued ascent? This book describes, with many interviews with the Street's pros, the power of a growth stock (as opposed to a value stock such as her main rival McDonald's/MCD). She takes us into the huddle at the quarterly meetings and conference calls; into the chaotic annual shareholder's meetings; onto the trading desks of the NASDAQ market-makers, greedily juggling the spread. What drives the demand for SBUX with a perennial P/E of 40-60? Not surprisingly, this grabs the attention of the short sellers, who are often burned, when they ignore the PEG. She explains the stock buyback process and the thinking behind it, sometimes deceptive, but within the GAAP (dissect the 10-Q!). The one gripe I have is the hype on the sleeve of the book, which promises to enter the dark,strange world of the short sellers, which sensationalizes the phenomenon that is often blamed for the demise of a stock, company, or even the economy.Read more ›
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