Green Mountain Coffee: "A big deal" in Vermont

Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:40pm EDT
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By Melvin Backman

(Reuters) - Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc did not crack the Fortune 500 list this year, but it is a big deal to folks back home.

Many of the coffee manufacturer's hometown supporters are puzzled at how the fast-growing company's stock has gone almost overnight from one of Wall Street's most loved to one of its most scorned.

For many in Vermont, it is a classic case of Wall Street not connecting with Main Street. That is because in Vermont, Green Mountain is not just one of the largest employers, its very presence supports many much smaller businesses.

"If Green Mountain were to disappear, I wouldn't have a paycheck," said Kelly Brooks, who puts in hours at Zachary's Pizza House less than a mile from Green Mountain's headquarters in Waterbury, a small town of fewer than 1,800. Brooks said her income depends in large part on the paychecks of Green Mountain employees.

Roughly 1,850 of Green Mountain's 5,600 employees are located in Vermont. The maker of Keurig coffee machines and its popular single-serve "K-cups" coffee product also is Vermont's fourth-largest employer.

Green Mountain - named after the Vermont mountain range - has been a shining example of economic growth in the state.

Revenue at the company has skyrocketed over the past five years to $2.7 billion by the end of 2011 from $51.7 million.

But after years of astronomical growth, with its stock hitting a 52-week high of $115.98 last September and a peak market capitalization of $18 billion, the company is coming back to earth.   Continued...

Green Mountain Coffee single-serve K-Cups are pictured in New York, May 3, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid