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Starbucks Has a Disturbing Problem That Even Its Fans Must Admit Has to Be Fixed — and Soon!

If you listen to Starbucks (SBUX) execs, then everything at the coffee giant is amazing.

Do some work in Microsoft (MSFT) Excel (as the analysts at Credit Suisse did below on Wednesday), and a glaring issue comes to light. That is, for all its digital leadership and ability to crank out new, more expensive drinks, Starbucks sales are on a long-term downtrend. Seeing as employee hourly wages and benefit costs are on the rise, as are costs to open new locations, a stubborn downtrend in sales is very unwelcome. It's especially unwelcome as most on Wall Street remain obsessed with Starbucks' growth prospects -- they could be in for some unfortunate surprises on the bottom line over the next year as a result.

The sales downtrend could force Starbucks down two paths, which come with negative consequences of their own. First, raise prices and risk sending people to Dunkin' Donuts (DNKN) or McDonald's (MCD) . Or two, whip up a boatload of new drinks and foods that go onto slow up order flow and tick off customers (which sends them to the aforementioned fast-food rivals).

While Starbucks figures this out, yours truly is off...


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