Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz dampened analyst expectations for the company's performance ahead of its April 30 quarterly earnings anouncement, sending shares tumbling 10.4 percent in after-hours trading. "The current economic environment is the weakest in our company's history," he said to explain why the company is facing the first quarterly profit decline in eight years. The retailer has long traded on being a relatively affordable yuppie status symbol, serving up a dose of psychological salve for four dollars a cup to an American middle class in decline. But it looks like Schultz's stunt to bloster the elite cachet of a brand now as ubiquitously plebeian as your local McDonald's might not be enough to fuel continued growth. (Photo by Peter Kaminski)
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