Can Pepsi Earnings Keep Lifting the Stock?

PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP  ) will release its quarterly report on Wednesday, but its stock has already popped higher, hitting all-time record highs earlier this month. Despite the share-price celebration, though, Pepsi earnings growth has been somewhat less impressive, raising concerns about whether the stock is getting ahead of itself.

Many investors think of PepsiCo only for its No. 2 beverage business, but the company goes a lot further than rival Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) in providing both snacks and drinks for hungry consumers. The snack business introduces both opportunities and challenges for PepsiCo, and lately, the company has had to focus not just on its core North American market but also on trying to make the most of growth prospects around the world. Let's take an early look at what's been happening with PepsiCo over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its quarterly report.

Stats on PepsiCo

Analyst EPS Estimate

$1.19

Change From Year-Ago EPS

6.3%

Revenue Estimate

$16.79 billion

Change From Year-Ago Revenue

2%

Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters

4

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Can Pepsi earnings keep fizzing higher?
Analysts haven't budged on their views of Pepsi earnings in the past few months, keeping both their short-term and long-term earnings estimates stable. The stock, though, has kept climbing higher, with a better-than-10% gain in the share price since mid-April.

One big reason for the stock's strong performance is that PepsiCo has produced good growth in the past. In the first quarter, for instance, the company grew organic net revenue by 4.4%, with a large part of its growth coming from the Asia-Middle East-Africa segment and its 15% sales gains when you exclude the impact of Chinese bottling refranchising. Pepsi's Latin America Foods division also posted double-digit sales gains, with 12% growth in Brazil coming as welcome news given the economic and social tensions there.

Both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have identified the needs to bolster their growth in markets around the world. As Fool contributor Nicole Seghetti identified last week, India is a potential battleground for both countries, as soft drinks haven't made much headway among consumers in the world's second most populous nation. As the North American market continues to mature, such opportunities are the best way for PepsiCo to grow more quickly.

Lately, Pepsi has been a subject of takeover speculation, with one rumor having the company in talks to buy home-carbonator system-maker SodaStream (NASDAQ: SODA  ) . Pepsi denied the rumors, and it's hard to see how a buyout would enhance Pepsi's prospects, given the two completely different business models.

A more intriguing proposal floating around involves activist investor Nelson Peltz and his Trian Fund Management hedge fund. Peltz believes that PepsiCo should spin off its beverage business into a separate unit, with the remaining snack division combining forces with Mondelez (NASDAQ: MDLZ  ) to create a global snack empire. By doing so, PepsiCo could bolster its overseas snack business, which arguably has better prospects than its decelerating North American snack growth.

In the Pepsi earnings report, watch for the company to give some hints about its future strategic vision. Even if neither of these business combinations become reality, PepsiCo needs to explain where it will get the growth to support its rapidly rising stock.

On top of all its other attractive traits, PepsiCo pays a great dividend. If you like high-yielding stocks, The Motley Fool has compiled a special free report outlining our nine top dependable dividend-paying stocks. It's called "Secure Your Future With 9 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks." You can access your copy today at no cost! Just click here.

Click here to add PepsiCo to My Watchlist, which can find all of our Foolish analysis on it and all your other stocks.


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