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Somewhere along the way in recent weeks, SodaStream (Nasdaq: SODA ) has become the Rodney Dangerfield of cola stocks.
My friend and fellow Fool Seth Jayson took a meaty jab at the Israeli company behind the portable water-carbonation system earlier this week.
"It sells an answer for a problem most people don't have," he writes. "How can I take up valuable counter space to make my own expensive soda at home?"
It's not a fair shot on both fronts.
For starters, I just measured my entry-level Genesis appliance. It's a mere five inches by nine inches, and since it doesn't require batteries or electricity it doesn't have to be within cord distance of a socket like most kitchen appliances.
The enclosed carbonator is good for 60 liters of carbonation, so is Seth suggesting that it's preferable to have 30 two-liter bottles -- or 169 soda cans -- in the cupboard or fridge? If the counter to that is that no one would ever stock that much pop in their home because they'll just lug the bottles and cans back and forth from the store as needed, then the cynic has arrived at one of the many reasons why SodaStream's convenience -- and environmental friendliness -- is making it so popular.
Then we get to the "expensive soda" knock. It costs just $0.25 to make a liter of sparkling water. Flavor it up with one of SodaStream's dozens of options and it's just $0.25 for a can serving. I'll be the first to admit that this isn't the kind of cost savings proposed by Green Mountain's (Nasdaq: GMCR ) Keurig, where a roughly $0.50 K-Cup brews out a mug of premium joe, but it's certainly a lot cheaper than brand-name soda.
I thought the cynicism was silenced earlier this year, after Jim Cramer challenged Hank Greenberg to a taste test on CNBC. Greenberg had been ripping into SodaStream earlier this year, so Cramer proposed a live sip-off. Greenberg chose SodaStream over brand-name soda in two different blind taste tests.
I thought that the bears arguing that SodaStream would just be a 2010 holiday fad were quieted after the company's heady growth continued through the first half of this year. When even Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) began stocking SodaStream this summer, wasn't it time to stop calling a company that has been a success in Europe for years a passing craze?
SodaStream's shares were slammed this summer after failing to raise its guidance after a blowout quarter. It didn't help that the market was selling off at the time, but what's so wrong about a company that grows its revenue by 38% and its adjusted earnings by a whopping 161%?
Yes, Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) and Pepsi (NYSE: PEP ) are cheaper. They pay healthy dividends, too. However, if SodaStream is going to be knocked as a space-sucking appliance that makes pricey soft drinks, I'm going to fight back with facts. I'll also point out that SodaStream's nondiet sodas are way healthier than what's sitting on your grocer's shelves.
It's not just me. Sales and profitability will continue to shoot higher as more cynics come around. It has been a hot summer, after all.
If you want to see how the cola wars play out, add SodaStream International to My Watchlist.