PepsiCo, Inc.: An Earnings Preview

PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP  ) will report earnings on Thursday. Here's what you need to watch for in the company's results.

Earnings expectations
The first issue that needs to be addressed is whether the beverage and snack-food giant met Wall Street's expectations. Analysts peg profits for PepsiCo at $0.75 per share this quarter. PepsiCo booked earnings per share of $0.77 in the same quarter last year, so the company expects a deterioration in profit growth. PepsiCo reported nearly $12.6 billion in sales for the first quarter of last year and $66.4 billion for the full-year 2013.

Revenue growth
PepsiCo's fourth-quarter 2013 organic revenues grew 4.1%. However, beverage sales in North America were down 2%. Domestic carbonated soft-drink sales have stalled out in the past decade, with both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) feeling the negative effects. Yet about 65% of PepsiCo's beverage business comes from its noncarbonated offerings. As more consumers reach for healthier beverages, this segment shows growth potential for both cola giants, especially in developed markets. PepsiCo holds Aquafina, Naked Juice, Tropicana, and Gatorade brands in this segment, while Coke has added Dasani water, Minute Maid, PowerAde, and Honest Tea to its noncarbonated beverage portfolio in recent years.

Unlike Coca-Cola, PepsiCo boasts a dominant snack-food business that's buoyed company revenues in recent quarters. In fact, snacks make up 52% of PepsiCo's revenues, and the company holds nearly 37% of the U.S. savory snack market. Worldwide snack volumes were up 3% in the fourth quarter, with the company posting 13% organic revenue growth in Latin American foods and 4% growth at Frito-Lay North America.

Innovative ways to boost beverage business
Although PepsiCo can lean on its snack-food business when beverage sales stall, the decline in soda consumption has spurred innovation from the two major soft-drink rivals. Earlier this year, Coke and Keurig Green Mountainentered an agreement to develop and roll out Coke's portfolio of products for use in Green Mountain's upcoming Keurig Cold at-home beverage system. Then PepsiCo announced that it would enter the at-home carbonation market with Bevyz, a multidrink beverage maker. The machine is expected to hit stores next month, ahead of the Keurig Cold's debut. It's not certain if these machines will boost consumption of Pepsi and Coke products. But it underscores both the extent to which these beverage giants will go to reverse fizzling soda sales and the legitimacy of the at-home carbonation market.

Foolish takeaway
When PepsiCo releases its first-quarter results on Thursday, I'll especially be watching to see if and how the company achieved sales growth in both its snack-food and beverage businesses. I'll also be looking for any updates on its foray into the at-home carbonation market.

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