McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Taco Bell Spar in Breakfast Wars

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McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) has long been celebrated as the fast-food breakfast king, but now many rivals are looking to usurp its powers — and we’re not talking age-old competitors like Burger King (NYSE:BKW) and Wendy’s (NYSE:WEN). This time, Ronald McDonald is being forced to keep its eye on the likes of Taco Bell (NYSE:YUM) and Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX). Taco Bell and Starbucks clearly have their differences and don’t necessarily go after the same consumer base; however, they still are similar in that they recognize an opening in the breakfast market space when they see one, and now, they’re going for it.

It’s not clear why, all of a sudden, two distinct companies have stepped up to take on McDonald’s breakfast might, but it could have something to do with their understanding of the reality that the chain’s popularity is dropping — and dropping fast. With same-store sales only rising 0.2 percent in 2013, McDonald’s has a lot of work to do, and Taco Bell and Starbucks may see it as high time to surreptitiously feed its customers while it is too busy to put up a resistance.

Still, the question remains: can Taco Bell and Starbucks’ new breakfast menus effectively rival the famed Egg McMuffin and Sausage Biscuits? Although teeming with fat and calories, there’s a reason these items have gotten Americans out of their beds early for years, and it’s still not a guarantee that breakfast consumers will be willing to trade in their McMuffins for Starbucks’ baked goods, or Taco Bell’s Waffle Tacos. Let’s take a look at what these chains plan on, or already serving in the a.m., and see how they match up.

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