SodaStream Has Rich Man's Problems

SodaStream's (Nasdaq: SODA  ) still popping.

The company behind the popular soda-making beverage system delivered another blowout report this morning.

Revenue soared 49% to $112.5 million, blowing past the $103.5 million -- or 33% advance -- that analysts were forecasting on the top line.

Record results were achieved across all three product categories. The 941,000 soda maker kits that it sold during the period was 31% ahead of last year's showing, but it was also well ahead of the now-shattered record of 767,000 units cleared during last year's fourth quarter. Yes, SodaStream is hotter now than it was during last year's potent holiday period. A record 4.3 million CO2 refills -- the replaceable carbonators that fizz up still water -- was 19% ahead of last year's number.

The star performers were the syrups. SodaStream cleared 7.7 million flavors, a 76% surge over the past year. Having Kraft Foods (Nasdaq: KRFT  ) bring some branding appeal with its Country Time and Crystal Light SodaStream syrups surely must have helped.

The news is also refreshing on the bottom line. Adjusted earnings popped 58% to $0.87 a share, obliterating the $0.72 a share that Wall Street was targeting. Yes, SodaStream benefited from having a tax benefit instead of a tax bite, but adjusted earnings before taxes still soared 42%. Analysts were modeling net income growth of just 29%.

Bring on the competition
SodaStream was asked about Cuisinart's decision to introduce its own sparkling beverage maker later this month, and the deal it announced with Primo Water (Nasdaq: PRMW  ) that breathes new life into the bottled water distributor's Flavorstation.

"Success does attract competition," CEO Dan Birnbaum said during the earnings call.

He points out specific examples where big-name competition in other countries has only helped fortify SodaStream's position.

  • In the Nordics, OBH Nordica rolled out a beverage system through Scandinavia two years ago. It has only garnered market share of 5%, and recently slashed prices on its starter systems.
  • Italy's third-largest appliance company rolled out a platform in Italy two years ago, and an aggressive marketing campaign only helped awareness of SodaStream. Market share peaked at 10%, and is now in the single digits.
  • In Sweden -- where SodaStream has the highest market penetration rate -- a rival system entered when SodaStream was in 10% of the country's homes. Today SodaStream's penetration finds it in 30% of Sweden's homes.

The real competition, Birnbaum points out, is "the red can" -- a clear shot at Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) . SodaStream sees the branded bottles and cans of pop as the company's ultimate target. That's not just lip service. SodaStream is investing millions in a 12-week global campaign that aims squarely at Coke and PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP  ) .

"If you love the bubbles, set them free," is the tag line of the ads that show the many advantages of fresh soda without the environmental and logistical challenges of bottles and cans. As the company is earmarking $18 million in rate card expenditures to get "The SodaStream Effect" ads rolling, it's safe to say that consumers will be exposed to the message.

Rich man's problems
It's no small feat that SodaStream has delivered better-than-expected bottom-line results in each and every quarter since going public two years ago.

The stock hasn't always played along. It got crushed earlier this year after posting blowout results but failing to lift its guidance. Well, that's not the case this morning.

SodaStream's new outlook calls for revenue to climb 46% for all of 2012. Its earlier guidance was looking at a 40% increase.

"Something's going on," Birnbaum says this morning, pointing out that 2012 guidance was initially just eyeing a 28% advance. The company wasn't merely trying to be conservative. Sales and global demand have blown past SodaStream's own internally rosy projections. The surge in popularity has created challenges -- "rich man's problems," as Birnbaum calls them -- but they're obviously welcome problems to have.

As for the bottom line, SodaStream was looking for a 47% pop for 2012 three months ago. This morning's revised guidance established what is now a 50% improvement there.

Once again, the heavily shorted SodaStream proves to naysayers that it's more than just a fad. Business is booming. The 79% spike in flavor sales shows that these kits aren't just collecting dust. If the shorts don't open their eyes, it won't be long before they're lamenting poor bear problems.

Drink up
SodaStream's carbonation technology sounds simple, right? Well, this razor-and-blade company offers an intriguing opportunity for growth that may be harder to duplicate than you might think. Our premium report on SodaStream explains the opportunities as well as the risks in the company. The report comes with a year's worth of updates, so just click here to get started.

 


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