SodaStream International (NASDAQ: SODA ) has a compelling growth story for a number of reasons, including geographic expansion and the appeal of the environmental, health, and convenience benefits that the company's products have over traditional sodas from soft drink makers such as Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) . Despite strong growth and a long runway ahead, investors have spent recent months focused instead on the potential entry of Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX ) and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (UNKNOWN: GMCR.DL ) into the carbonated beverage market.
Competition? Not so fast!
While it is important to monitor the competitive environment of any company, it is also important to analyze the situation based on facts. Investors know that Green Mountain has trademarked the name "Karbon" and has plans to make moves beyond coffee. That's really all that is known; no specifics, prices, and product launch timing are available at this time.
There's even more mystery behind Starbucks' development of "Fizzio." At this point, there are so few details available that it isn't even clear whether the machine will reside in consumers' homes or just in Starbucks locations. With such few details, it is hardly time to panic.
SodaStream continues to extend its first mover advantage
In addition to a tremendous worldwide first mover advantage, SodaStream is continuing to build its moat through a number of innovations. Here are a few examples:
- Refrigerator integration-Through a joint project with Samsung, SodaStream has gone beyond the countertop appliance and has integrated its system into refrigerators. This partnership with Samsung brings unparalleled functionality, but also the consumer appeal of a highly regarded brand. Samsung is a formidable ally as evidenced by the power of Samsung leveraging its marketing power to promote SodaStream functionality.
- SodaStream Professional-During 2011, SodaStream made an under-the-radar acquisition of CEM Industries which has since been rebranded "SodaStream Professional." As the name might imply, this division produces professional grade beverage dispensers for water, soda, beer, and other spirits.
To date, SodaStream Professional has not been a material part of SodaStream's growth story. However, the fact that the company has the technology to dispense carbonated and non-carbonated beverages in restaurants and other commercial settings presents an opportunity to target growth beyond consumers. Additionally, this existing capability in the SodaStream Professional product line that is likely a solid competitor to Starbucks' future Fizzio systems. It seems a bit premature to fear the arrival of a system that may or may not have any features that are not already part of the SodaStream product portfolio.
SodaStream will continue to grow
It is certainly possible that Green Mountain and Starbucks may introduce home soda makers at some point in the future. A home version of the Coke Freestyle machine could also be a formidable competitor as well given the power of Coca-Cola's brand and loyal customer base.
However, it is important to emphasize three things. First, this competition is nothing more than trademarks and speculation at this point, and thus far the home soda makers that have hit retail shelves from Cuisinart and others have had little impact on SodaStream. Second, SodaStream's existing network of 13,000 locations in the United States alone for exchanging its "carbonator" gas tanks is a significant advantage given the special requirements for handling the pressurized tanks. Third, the home soda making industry continues to show signs that it has room for huge growth; as a result, multiple competitors can have huge success over the long term.
As a result of these tailwinds, there are a lot of reasons to continue to believe that SodaStream will outperform the market going forward. Considering the attractive valuation today, SodaStream is a compelling stock for investors.
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