3 Things to Watch For in PepsiCo Earnings

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.

PepsiCo has satiated consumers' bellies for more than a century. But recently, the company has left shareholders craving more. With increased competition, and loss of market share, many investors wonder if this global snack food and beverage giant is simply fizzling out. Are more bland results ahead for PepsiCo? In The Motley Fool's brand-new premium report on the company, we guide you through everything you need to know about PepsiCo, including the key opportunities and threats facing the company's future. Simply click here now to claim your copy today.


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