Is Primo Water Drowning?

Primo Water (NAS: PRMW) is taking on water -- and that's not a good thing.

The fast-growing company that was seemingly carving out a cozy living by offering purified drinking water in exchangeable 3- and 5-gallon bottles through a growing number of supermarkets and retailers needs money.

A filing yesterday details Primo's plans to raise $75 million through new equity. Investors should always be suspicious when a company is printing new shares at a time when the stock's hitting rock bottom, and that's exactly what we have here.

Primo's stock peaked at $16.45 back in April, plummeting all the way down to $3.14 yesterday. The dire panhandling detailed in the filing is naturally dropping the shares even lower today.

In a troublesome admission, Primo claims that earnings aren't even enough to cover fixed expenses at the company. Primo's ratio of earnings to fixed charges has been negative every year dating back to 2006.

Why didn't Primo raise more money when its stock was trading in the mid-teens earlier this year? What will this mean for the delayed rollout of the flavorstation home beverage system that was supposed to take on SodaStream (NAS: SODA) ?

SodaStream didn't have to worry after Primo conceded last month that flavorstation sales wouldn't top $2 million in 2011. However, the cash crunch makes it unlikely for Primo to field a worthy challenge come 2012 either unless it's successful in this highly dilutive offering.

SodaStream is perpetually landing new distributors, while Primo seems to have only nabbed home improvement superstore Lowe's (NYS: LOW) as a retail partner for flavorstation. SodaStream is rolling out national commercials. Where you at, Primo?

Primo has been posting healthy top-line growth in recent quarters, but clearly that's not enough. Trying to raise money -- now -- simply muddies up the water.

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At the time thisarticle was published Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Lowe's Companies and SodaStream International; and writing covered calls in Lowe's Companies. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

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