Has Dr Pepper Lost Its Fizz?

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Dr Pepper gave us the news, and its stock got a bad case of earnings blues. Too bad ... the results shouldn't have caused more than perhaps a little investor indigestion.

Compared to expectations of $0.51 per share, Dr Pepper Snapple Group's (NYSE: DPS  ) adjusted earnings of $0.45 for the third quarter were a few sips shy of satisfying. However, I can't help but wonder whether the topsy-turvy market wouldn't have found a way to punish the shares even if the company had managed to beat estimates.

Don't get me wrong: The company's first full fiscal quarter since being spun off from British sweets maker Cadbury (NYSE: CBY  ) wasn't great. And it's certainly not easy for me to forgive the company for losing one of its better distribution product lines last year, when Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) bought Glaceau Water. What may be the final straw for many was the diminished outlook for the full 2008 year; now Dr Pepper is looking for roughly 1% growth in the top line, versus a previous growth estimate of 3% to 5%.

Shares fell a nasty 13% on the news, and have continued to slide since then. However, I don't think last week's punishment of the stock quite fits the crime.

Where the pop is
Looking deeper into the numbers, there's actually quite a bit of encouraging news. Taking Glaceau out of the equation, volume was actually up a tad for almost all of the company's product lines -- up enough to help the company generate more than $100 million in earnings. While the number may come up short of a dubious estimate, that still translates into a net margin of about 7%

Now, I'm not naive enough to think that 7% is going to hold a candle to Hansen Natural's (Nasdaq: HANS  ) or Coca-Cola's wide margins. On the other hand, you're not going to get a single-digit P/E valuation anytime soon on those two, like you can with Dr Pepper right now.

The point is, after the recent drubbing based on what may well end up being an overly pessimistic earnings response, I think Dr Pepper could end up being a cool drink for parched portfolios.

More drinkable Foolishness:

Though Fool contributor James Brumley will drink Dr Pepper on occasion, he's not so enamored that he owns any shares in the company. In fact, he doesn't own any of the stocks mentioned above. Coca-Cola is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can read about the Fool's disclosure policy here.

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