PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and SodaStream: 4 Stories to Watch

Recent beverage industry headlines revealed some several interesting topics for PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP  ) , Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) and its bottler in Latin America Coca-Cola Femsa (NYSE: KOF  ) , and home carbonation system company SodaStream (NASDAQ: SODA  ) . Product introductions, government regulations, and holiday challenges made an impact on these companies.

Interesting products
If you live in Japan and enjoy Mountain Dew products, then you might enjoy Mountain Dew-flavored Cheetos. According to the newsletter Bakery and Snacks, PepsiCo plans a limited release of the soda-flavored/cheesy delight in Japan. This represents a sequel to the Pepsi-flavored Cheetos that also enjoyed a limited release in Japan back in August 2013.  This demonstrates PepsiCo's desire to work its beverage and snack portfolios in conjunction with one another and prove naysayers, such as activist investor Nelson Peltz, wrong for saying that PepsiCo needs to unload its beverage segment.  

In other PepsiCo news, the company released two new Mountain Dew Kickstart flavors on Jan. 13: black cherry and limeade. The press release emphasized real fruit ingredients and low-calorie content. It's only natural for PepsiCo to capitalize on stellar growth in Mountain Dew Kickstart; the drink represented a strength in PepsiCo's beverage portfolio in the most recent quarter, "on pace to achieve $100 million" in "annual rate sales of the United States," according to the company.

Aware of shifting consumer tastes toward healthier beverages, Coca-Cola released two new Minute Maid Juices To Go products. Both of these new products contain vegetable and fruit juices such as purple carrot, pumpkin, beet, and pear. In the Coca-Cola press release highlighting the product release, Charles Torrey, Vice President of Minute Maid Marketing, said, "Our goal is to keep our fans refreshed with great taste and good nutrition and we are excited to offer them more options from our Minute Maid Juices To Go product line," serving as indication of Coca-Cola's desire to serve the consumer who doesn't want soda on the go.

Regulatory impact
Governments that worry about the impact of obese citizens on health care infrastructure want to clamp down on sodas and other snacks perceived as unhealthy. Mexico, which struggles with some of the highest obesity rates in the world, enacted an excise tax of one peso on every liter on Jan. 1 affecting Coca-Cola bottlers such as Coca-Cola Femsa. This lessened the enthusiasm of stock market analysts for the bottler and its stock, according to a blog on Barron's website. Barclays lowered its price target from $140 to $132 and anticipates a decrease of year over year volume of 5%. 

SodaStream in trouble?
The huge 25% drop in SodaStream's stock price on Jan. 13 represented another eye-catcher as the company released preliminary results that fell below everyone's expectations. High expectations can be built into a company's stock price, and when those expectations aren't met, you can expect a correction and an opportunity to pick up stocks of companies on the cheap. As fellow Fools Mark Reeth and Sean O' Reilly recently reported, SodaStream said its revenue of $562 million will fall short of the expected $564.3 million, and that its anticipated net income of $52.5 million won't meet the target of $63 million.

Foolish takeaway
PepsiCo's success will depend on the integration of its beverage and snack portfolio and possible resulting hybrids. Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo understand the concept of "innovate or die," as evidenced by the new Minute Maid and Mountain Dew products. Bottlers such as Coca-Cola Femsa will also need innovation to overcome increased regulation and scrutiny by governments. However, an anticipated improvement in the Latin American economy should bode well for this company despite the new red tape. As for SodaStream's correction, the company now trades at a mere 17 times earnings as of this writing. Its new estimate of $52.5 million in net income still translates into year-over-year growth of 20%. All of these companies deserve more of your research time and a place on your Motley Fool Watchlist.

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