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Starbucks posts bigger-than-expected drop in comparable sales

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Jan 26 (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp on Tuesday reported a bigger-than-expected fall in quarterly comparable sales as the rising number of coronavirus cases in the United States kept customers at home.

The world's largest coffee chain said global same-store sales fell 5% in the first quarter, more than analysts' estimates of a 3.4% decline, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

The second wave of COVID-19 infections and accompanying restrictions dented traffic at the coffee chain's stores, hampering its efforts to boost demand through product launches and wider online options.

Comparable sales declined 6% for the Americas region, compared with a 5.2% fall expected by analysts.

But in China, Starbucks' biggest growth market, comparable sales rose 5% as the company benefited from the popularity of its rewards program and the return of pre-coronavirus consumer habits.

On an adjusted basis, the Seattle-based company earned 61 cents per share.

Net revenue fell 5% to $6.7 billion, missing expectations of $6.93 billion. (Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)