SodaStream Needs More Than SunnyD

SodaStream (NASDAQ: SODA  ) has yet to land a soda giant to support its popular platform that turns tap water into flavored soda, but it has teamed up with yet another household name.

The Israeli-based appliance maker announced on Monday that it was entering into a strategic agreement with Sunny Delight Beverages to make its fruity drinks available exclusively for SodaStream's system. 

SunnyD Tangy Original, Orange Strawberry, and other flavors will be available during the second half of this year. Over the past two years we've seen SodaStream team up with Kool-Aid, Crystal Light, Welch's, V8, and others to offer up their signature flavors as syrups. It's a pretty predictable pattern: If you're a company that makes a popular noncarbonated beverage there's a good chance that SodaStream has knocked on your door to see if you want to expand your market by making it available for home soda-fizzing enthusiasts. The ball is now in your court, Yoo-hoo, Snapple, and Tang. 

It's not enough, of course. Lining up what seems to be a murderers' row of brands wasn't sufficient to save SodaStream during the third quarter of last year, when flavor sales actually dipped in this country. SodaStream bounced back on that front in a major way during the holiday quarter, but we're still left to wonder how much mileage the company is getting from these arrangements in which marquee brands with products that have historically been consumed without CO2 try to emerge as pop stars.

The addition of SunnyD flavors is a positive, of course. However, it doesn't address the problem that's been keeping SodaStream shares in check. Top-line growth isn't a concern here. Revenue climbed 26% in its latest quarter, fueled by healthy double-digit growth in starter kits, carbon-dioxide refills, and flavors. There could be a challenge when Green Mountain Coffee Roasters' (NASDAQ: GMCR  ) Keurig Cold is introduced in a year or so, but even then the challenge will be limited initially to this country, since Keurig isn't the global force that SodaStream is overseas. 

SodaStream's woes -- and the reason the stock has shed nearly half of its value since last summer -- rest primarily on its bottom line. SodaStream barely broke even this past quarter, and it has operating issues to tackle after sloppy inventory deployment prior to last year's holiday shopping season. More flavors are nice, of course. Just ask Green Mountain. Its ability to attach itself to some of the biggest coffee brands in K-Cup deals has given it an insurmountable lead in the growing realm of single-serve java. However, SodaStream will need to prove that it can start widening its margins again -- or strike a head-turning deal with a soda giant -- before investors storm back into the stock.

Warm up to a new pop star
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