Did SodaStream Live Up to Expectations in 2012?


It's been another year of stellar growth and myth-debunking for SodaStream .

Shares of the Israeli company behind the namesake carbonated beverage maker have risen 35% in 2012, easily beating the market.

A year ago I profiled four things that SodaStream must do in 2012. I already went out on a limb with my predictions for 2013. Since a lot of us are reflecting on the year that was, I may as well take a look at how SodaStream panned out in those four areas.

1. Consumable sales need to keep up with soda-maker revenue
One of the few problematic things in assessing SodaStream last December was that the sales of starter kits were growing a lot faster than CO2 carbonator refills and flavored-syrup bottles.

It's not just that SodaStream scores healthier margins on the consumables. If the systems are selling -- but the carbonator tanks and flavors are not -- it would indicate that the platform is a bit of a novelty. Folks buy them, but they're just not using them.

At its prime, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters wasn't a winning investment because it was selling a ton of Keurig brewers. It was the robust growth of higher-margin K-Cup portion packs that excited the market.

Some will argue that the 26% spike in consumable sales that SodaStream posted during last year's third quarter is impressive on its own, but when it's stacked up to the 54% gain in starter systems, some begin to have their doubts.

Well, SodaStream has reversed the trend. In its latest quarter it posted a 37% uptick in soda-making systems, enhanced with a 55% pop in consumables.

2. Primo's flavorstation needs to remain a disappointment
SodaStream seemed to have the water carbonation market all to itself until Primo Water made a splash with its flavorstation platform.

If you've never heard of flavorstation, consider that a sign of SodaStream's success.

This year is ending with a cliffhanger on that front, though. Small-kitchen-appliance mogul Cuisinart announced last month that it was entering the market, licensing some of flavorstation's technology.

So, yes, SodaStream swatted away a small threat, but it may have awakened a monster.

3. SodaStream analysts need to hop off the euro
One of the frustrating aspects of tracking SodaStream is that it was reporting results in euros, and analysts were following suit with their projections.

Money is money -- and I'm not one to fall for jingoistic urges -- but it was still frustrating to see so many neophyte investors underestimate SodaStream's valuation because they were pitting a dollar-denominated stock against euro-denominated forecasts.

Well, SodaStream switched over to the greenback earlier this year.

It now makes it easy for stateside investors to peg a value on SodaStream. Oh, and yes, SodaStream is a steal at just 17 times forward earnings these days. Have you seen the growth rate?

4. SodaStream's distribution needs to go more mainstream
We live in a world of soda sippers, and SodaStream has been servicing several European markets for decades. However, no one consumes soda at the hectic pace that we do in the United States. When SodaStream made its big domestic marketing push two years ago, the emphasis was on chains selling housewares.

Bed Bath & Beyond became SodaStream's biggest cheerleader during the 2010 holiday season, promoting the then-largely-unknown system and offering half-priced carbonators for folks bringing in old carbonators to swap out.

Office-supply superstores and department store chains followed throughout 2011, but SodaStream landed the biggest retailer of all this year.

Wal-Mart began stocking a full line of SodaStream products, carbonators, and flavors in May. The move helped validate the platform, especially to an audience of thrifty shoppers for whom the value and convenience of home-brewed soft drinks make sense.

SodaStream is still lacking representation at the grocery store, but that appears to be the next evolutionary step. Expect SodaStream syrups, at least, to hit some supermarket chains either later in 2013 or by 2014 at the latest.

Drink up
Add it all up and SodaStream had a very successful 2012. There were some pleasant surprises along the way in the form of big beverage brands striking licensing deals for SodaStream flavors, and the pop star continued its enviable streak of blowing Wall Street's quarterly profit targets away.

What's in store for the stock in 2013? Our premium report on SodaStream explains the opportunities as well as the risks facing the company now and in the years ahead. It comes with a free year's worth of updates, too, so just click here to get started and you'll always have the latest info at hand.

The article Did SodaStream Live Up to Expectations in 2012? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Aristotle Munarriz owns shares of SodaStream and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. The Motley Fool owns shares of SodaStream. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Bed Bath & Beyond, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and SodaStream. 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.

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