>> Starbucks shares getting crushed Wednesday, down 9%. At one point, the biggest one day slide in six years. Panic, the flavor of the day, after the coffee chain predicted lackluster sales growth in its two biggest markets, the US and China. Starbucks has missed analyst sales estimates in five of the last six quarters, a sign new CEO Kevin Johnson hasn't found the right recipe to duplicate the rapid success of co-founder and former Executive Chairman, Howard Schultz.
This latest warning leading many investors to wonder if Starbucks has too many stores and is starting to cannibalize business. It's planning to close 150 outlets across the US. The company that convinced Americans that an expensive latte was an every day necessity rather than a casual luxury is feeling the heat from more competition at the high end of the market and from the low end.
And it's not just stock investors on edge. Starbucks debt holders had to face two downgrades Wednesday. Moody's and S&P cut Starbucks credit ratings on fear that with sales sagging Starbucks will have to borrow money to fund shareholder givebacks. The dividend payments no doubt aimed at buying some time, as Starbucks tries to put the caffeine jolt back in its business.