PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) will report earnings before the market's opening bell on Thursday. Here's what you need to watch for in the company's results.

Not so great expectations
The first issue to address after earnings are released is whether the beverage and snack food giant met Wall Street's expectations. Analysts peg profits for PepsiCo at $1.05 per share this quarter . In the third quarter, PepsiCo affirmed its full-year 2012 outlook, which called for earnings per share to fall 5% from the $4.40 it earned the previous year.

I'll be looking to see if PepsiCo hit its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings per share estimates.

Sales growth
PepsiCo's third-quarter 2012 organic net revenues grew 5%, with 1% volume growth, and 4% in pricing. PepsiCo and rival Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) are assertively pursuing growth in relatively untapped emerging markets. For example, in India, inhabitants merely sip 12 servings of cola annually, while Americans guzzle 403.  Yet, the Asian nation's population is nearly four times that of the U.S . With India representing one of the last boxing rings for cola companies, Coke and PepsiCo are fighting bare-knuckle to gain market share for their namesake cola brands.

Domestically, soda sales at stores declined 0.6% in 2012, the last quarter of the year seeing the most precipitous pullback in sales . I'll be looking to see what type of organic growth took place in Q4, where it was achieved geographically, and whether PepsiCo met its yearly target. I'll also be looking for the same results from Coke, which will release earnings on Tuesday.

PepsiCo's real dominance is in its often-overlooked position as a leading snack food maker. Amazingly, it's four times larger than closest rival Kraft Foods (NASDAQ:KRFT) and eight times larger than Kellogg (NYSE:K).  I'll be looking for reported sales growth in PepsiCo's snack foods business.

Results from restructuring efforts
With 2012 slated as a transition year, PepsiCo stepped up investments in marketing, cut jobs, and streamlined its product portfolio . In 2011, the company spent $383 million in conjunction with its multi-year productivity plan . To the chagrin of shareholders, the stock price has yet to reap the benefits of the company's investments.

Patient investors know it'll take time for the efforts to pay off. But I'll be watching for signals of when and how PepsiCo's investments may translate into top- and bottom-line growth.

Fool contributor Nicole Seghetti owns shares of PepsiCo. The Motley Fool recommends Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. The Motley Fool owns shares of PepsiCo. 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.