S&P 500 Listing, Starbucks Deal Are a Double Shot for Keurig
The company behind the Keurig platform for single-cup servings of coffee, tea and other brewed beverages turned heads last month when Coca-Cola (KO) agreed to invest $1.25 billion for a 10 percent stake in it. The fireworks have continued this month with Keurig being added to the S&P 500 on Friday, reworking its deal with Starbucks (SBUX) to allow other "super-premium" brands come on a licensed partners and changing its corporate name from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.
The stock soared 83 percent last year, and it's up another 53 percent in 2014. That's not a bad run for a company that many investors had left for dead in 2012 on fears that it would fade in relevance once its patent protection on the original K-Cups expired. The Vermont-based company has some interesting things brewing for the future.
Keurig Green Mountain's days as a growth stock seemed over in late 2012 when key K-Cup patents expired. Anyone could legally roll out unlicensed portion packs that fit Keurig brewers, and private labels did. Growth slowed, but Keurig Green Mountain swayed many leading brands on the merits of sticking with the company behind the Keurig brewers to put out licensed K-Cups.
Keurig 2.0, Keurig Cold in the Pipeline
Keurig is working on two key lines expected to hit the market in coming months.
As its name implies, Keurig 2.0 is the evolutionary next step in the platform. Unlike the Keurig Vue, which has failed to gain serious traction with its new portion packs, Keurig 2.0 machines will accept the widely available K-Cup refills. However, it will also fit K-Carafe portion packs that can brew an entire pot of coffee. It's a move that starts a new clock on patent protection.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Keurig's biggest gamble -- and the primary reason for Coca-Cola's investment -- is Keurig Cold. The machine will make cold and carbonated beverages. This market is dominated by SodaStream (SODA), but the Israeli-based pioneer of in-home carbonation never had Coke on board. Coca-Cola will make its huge global portfolio of brands available for Keurig Cold, giving it the appeal that SodaStream has failed to grab.
Since cold beverages have wider consumption rates than warm drinks, this could potentially be an even bigger market than its coffee stronghold. It won't be easy. Soda cans are cheap and plentiful. SodaStream is a global force. It's available in 25 percent of the homes in Sweden, for example. However, that hasn't been enough to command much of a market capitalization for SodaStream.
The key here will be what Coca-Cola does to help increase this country's embrace of Keurig Cold as a small kitchen appliance to go alongside the Keurig brewer that potential buyers likely already own.
There's plenty of upside to both Keurig 2.0 and Keurig Cold, but investors also have to recognize that the stock's meteoric rise over the past year and change is already discounting a lot of these events.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Keurig Green Mountain and SodaStream. The Motley Fool recommends Coca-Cola, Keurig Green Mountain, SodaStream and Starbucks. The Motley Fool owns shares of Coca-Cola, SodaStream and Starbucks and has the following options: long January 2016 $37 calls on Coca-Cola and short January 2016 $37 puts on Coca-Cola. Try any Motley Fool newsletter service free for 30 days.