3 Consumer Stocks Investors Shopped for in March

Source: Michael Dorausch

The first calendar quarter of 2014 has drawn to a close and the share price growth of three consumer goods companies over the period show that investors went on a shopping spree. The newly renamed Keurig Green Mountain (NASDAQ: GMCR  )  saw its share price increase over 43%, thanks to some lucrative brand deals. Electric car maker Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA  ) had a strong earnings report which was offset by legislative troubles, but its share price still improved 37%. Athletic apparel company Under Armour (NYSE: UA  ) managed to survive the Olympics with share price growth of 33%. 

What happened to these companies in the first quarter to inspire their double-digit share price growths?  

Keurig brews up partners
Keurig Green Mountain, formerly called Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, has focused on the strength of its deal-making. The biggest deal so far this year involved Keurig Green Mountain's 10-year exclusive deal with Coca-Cola to carry the beverage maker's products in the forthcoming Keurig Cold machine. That deal was large enough to grant Coca-Cola a 10% ownership stake in Keurig.

However, Keurig Green Mountain didn't leave out the traditional machine pods as it signed new deals with the likes of Krispy Kreme, Peet's Coffee and Tea, and hot-chocolate brand Laura Secord. Brand partnerships remain vital to the company's success as most of its money comes from its pod sales rather than its sales of the Keurig machines, though the machines are its best-known product. That explains Green Mountain's first-quarter name change.  

The successful quarter did include some bad press which stemmed from a lawsuit that alleged that Keurig Green Mountain essentially bullies brands into partnerships. Added pressure will come when future Keurig models will no longer brew with unlicensed-or store brand-k-cups. This is Keurig's way of getting around the fact that the K-cups have fallen off-patent.   

Green Mountain met analysts' revenue estimates in the quarter with $1.4 billion and beat their EPS calls with $0.96. Consensus estimates for the second quarter call for $1 billion in revenue and EPS of $0.95.

Tesla rolls into crash with lobbyists  
Tesla's first-quarter gains look puny in comparison with the more than 460% share price growth it has seen over the past year. Last month, I covered Tesla's strong fourth-quarter report that beat the estimates from both analysts and company founder Elon Musk. The Model S cars showed strong sales growth and this should grow stronger with the vehicle's launch in China this month. 

However, it wasn't a completely smooth ride for Tesla as the company ran into legislative and lobbying roadblocks. States that include New York, New Jersey, and Ohio have fought against Tesla selling cars directly to consumers rather than through dealerships. Numerous states have laws which forbid manufacturer-to-consumer sales in order to protect dealerships from having to compete with their own manufacturers. Still, Tesla maintains that the company needs to sell its cars itself to adequately explain the benefits and operability of electric vehicles. 

Tesla's making some gradual strides in this area, such as the new deal it struck with New York. According to the Wall Street Journal, Gov. Cuomo will allow Tesla to keep its five stores in the state but the automaker can't open any more locations there. The fight in other states continues -- and it's a battle that Tesla will have to wage on a state-by-state basis.

Tesla handily beat estimates with its fourth-quarter report. Analysts' predictions for the first-quarter report included $703 million in revenue and EPS of $0.10.

Under Armour speed skates into a split 
Under Armour had a tough time at the Sochi Winter Olympics. The company's newly designed speed-skating suits received blame for the U.S. team's poor athletic performance -- but said performance didn't improve once the skaters changed into an older suit design. Regardless, Under Armour's speed-skating team design contract received a renewal through 2022.  

The company will split its stock two-for-one on April 14, which pertains to investors who were on record by March 28. A company usually splits its shares to make them seem like cheaper buys to new investors. At the time of writing, Under Armour was trading at about $115 per share.

Under Armour beat fourth-quarter revenue and EPS estimates with reported figures of $683 million and $0.59, respectively. Consensus estimates for the first-quarter report include $598 million in revenue and EPS of $0.09.

Foolish final thoughts 
The winners of the first calendar quarter of 2014 all nonetheless hit some snags. However, these growths show that investors aren't overly concerned about Green Mountain's lawsuit, Tesla's state battles, or Under Armour receiving blame for the speed skaters' performance. Will these companies remain on top in the second quarter? 

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