SodaStream Has a Lot to Prove Tomorrow


Trading in SodaStream is about to get fizzy. The company behind the popular soda-making system that turns flat water into carbonated soda reports quarterly results tomorrow morning.

Expectations run high in terms of top-line growth. Analysts see revenue climbing 29% to $145.2 million. There's little reason to doubt the pros. SodaStream boosted its guidance for the entire year last time out. It raised its top-line target to 30% after climbing 31% through the first half of 2013.

Wall Street sees a profit of $0.72 a share -- shy of the $0.80 a share it posted a year earlier -- but there's no reason to panic there. Investments in expansion initiatives this time around and a favorable tax benefit last time around are temporarily holding back bottom-line growth. SodaStream is at a point in its life cycle where growing its audience is more important than plumping up its margins.

Growth has certainly been there for SodaStream to take. There is no legitimate rival to its throne, though there's no shortage of wannabes in some of the Israeli-based company's more established European markets. It's been encouraging to see SodaStream broaden its distribution stateside and line up new licensing partners, but perhaps what's been even more impressive is that it's still posting double-digit percentage growth in Europe, where it's been at this far longer than in America, where it started its marketing push three years ago.

Another thing working in SodaStream's favor is that the stock has settled down in recent months. The shares soared in June after sources told Israeli's business newspaper Calcalist that PepsiCo was interested in buying SodaStream. It's a deal that never made sense for either company. Why would PepsiCo buy a company that could challenge its much larger beverage business? Why would SodaStream cash out at a time when Wall Street can't keep up with its growth?

PepsiCo certainly has the global Rolodex and distribution connections to take SodaStream to a higher level, but in the end it seemed as if it had more to lose than gain by considering the move. PepsiCo denied the move, and SodaStream moved lower.

Recent SodaStream investors who haven't followed the company for long should know what to look for in tomorrow morning's report. Here's a quick checklist.

  • You can't ignore sales growth, of course.

  • Make sure that all three of the company's product categories -- soda makers, CO2 refills, and flavors -- are growing in the double digits. A slowdown in any category could signal a potentially problematic trend. Soft starter systems may suggest slowing growth in the future. If CO2 refills are low it may mean that more consumers are turning to third-party carbonation solutions. If the syrup bottles aren't holding up, it could indicate that there's a trend toward unflavored seltzer or that soda sippers are checking out other flavoring options.

  • Keep an eye on guidance. SodaStream has rewarded shareholders by boosting its guidance more often than not. Whether it's a deliberately conservative initial outlook or business is simply exceeding internal expectations, don't ignore the guidance. Adjust any changes based on the third-quarter results to see what the company ultimately translates into expectations for the holiday quarter.

SodaStream shares have a tendency to swing when it reports, and even a solid report has seen the stock sell off. The right ingredients are in place this time around -- namely, a sober share price and favorable fundamentals since boosting its guidance this summer -- for the pop to be favorable.

Then again, SodaStream's all about making pop favorable.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of SodaStream. The Motley Fool recommends PepsiCo and SodaStream. The Motley Fool owns shares of PepsiCo 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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