3 Beverage Companies With Strong Execution

Our world changes around us every day, but there is one thing that remains constant: People want more. Americans in particular have an insatiable desire for growth, a trend which also continues in our waistlines. During this sensitive time Jamba,  (NASDAQ: JMBA  ) is trying to break the mold by expanding their business, not the girth of their customers.

Jamba is following a business strategy based on promoting the healthy decisions of their customers. Under this strategy, according to Jamba's 10Q filed on May 2, the company follows what they call the "Blend Plan," striving toward specific goals of brand-building and total innovation, lifestyle engagement, expanding growth initiatives, new products, partners, channels and markets, and also driving enterprise efficiencies upward. Following their plan, Jamba did a great job in first-quarter 2013 by expanding their product lines and increasing store sales.

JMBA Gross Profit Annual YoY Growth Chart

JMBA Gross Profit Annual YoY Growth data by YCharts.

While Jamba's earnings have been in the red the past two quarters, they are making big strides in increasing revenues and cutting costs. In this year's first quarter, Jamba's net loss was $1.2 million, down from a $1.5 million loss in the same quarter last year. This move toward positive territory was primarily driven by increasing comparable-store sales by 3.6%.

Jamba has been seeing increased store traffic as well as an increase in average ticket amount, meaning that more customers are coming into the stores and they are spending more money as well. Jamba's distinct business strategy of building its healthy product lines is giving it an edge in a society that is starting to become more aware of the health problems faced in the U.S. The company isn't quite there yet, but improving efficiency and expanding product lines are leading it in the right direction. As a result, this stock should be on investors' radar.

Wake up and smell the coffee
Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX  ) is another beverage company that is expanding its product lines with success. Comparable-store sales increased by 6% in the most recent quarter ended March 31, mainly comprised of a 5% increase of in-store transactions. On top of that, it has increased its K-cup marketing so that customers can enjoy its products at home as well. Expanding on its K-Cup strategy, Starbucks has just increased its partnership with the owners of the Keurig brewing system. Through the partnership it will continue its marketing and distribution of Starbucks- and Tazo-branded coffee and tea through the increasingly popular Keurig brewing system.

SBUX Revenue Quarterly YoY Growth Chart

SBUX Revenue Quarterly YoY Growth data by YCharts.

Despite some consumer opposition to the premium prices, Starbucks' revenues have been going nowhere but up. Year-over-year growth has been positive and in the double digits for nearly two years. Starbucks looks to continue its revenue growth by expanding its company stores and product offerings. Overall, earnings quality at Starbucks has been middle-of-the-pack, yet management has proven over time to be strong on execution.

As comfort and convenience become increasingly important factors for customers, marketing and sales strategies come under more and more scrutiny. Dunkin' Brands  (NASDAQ: DNKN  ) , owner of Dunkin' Donuts, has been executing its strategies well among their 17,000 worldwide stores. Dunkin' has a nice setup in which the franchisees pay nearly all of the start-up and marketing costs for their own stores, making the owners accountable and more responsible for performance.

The asset-light strategy executed by Dunkin' Donuts seems to be working, as company revenues have been for the most part very strong. For six of the last seven quarters, Dunkin' has had positive revenue growth, despite strong competition coming from the likes of Starbucks and other breakfast and beverage companies. Investors may see Dunkin' as more of a food-sales store, but according to the most recent conference call, 60% of revenues are attributable to beverage sales, lining its business model up closely with powerhouses like Starbucks.

In past research, I've incorporated a Motley Fool Earnings Quality (EQ) Score, which taps into a database ranking individual stocks. The database designates an "A" through "F" weekly ranking, based on price, cash flow, revenue, and relative strength, among other things. Stocks with poor earnings quality tend to underperform, so we look for trends that might predict future outcomes.

Starbucks currently earns an EQ score of C, while Jamba and Dunkin' are not currently ranked in our system. However, both companies are currently putting up very solid numbers and are looking increasingly efficient. Jamba's distinct plan of marketing as a healthier choice looks to be gaining traction. If strong sales and management persists, the stock looks to be headed in the right direction.

The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for this year. Find out which stock it is in the special free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2013." Just click here to access the report and find out the name of this under-the-radar company.


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