ALEXANDRIA, VA (Aug. 13, 1999) -- Picking up where Jeff left off yesterday with his initial look at PepsiCo. (NYSE: PEP), today we're going to take a peek at the soda and snack company's future growth prospects.
While Pepsi's valuation appears to be frozen in time and is virtually unchanged from this portfolio's first look at the company almost two years ago, the business has changed quite a bit. Gone are the Tricon Global (NYSE: YUM) restaurant triumvirate and a 65% stake in Pepsi Bottling Group (NYSE: PBG); new to the fold is the Tropicana juice business.
Selling only snack foods, beverage syrup, and juices, the company should be a lot easier to analyze than it was two years ago. (Notice the use of the word should in the preceding sentence.) Thanks to the mish-mash of recent transactions, however, Pepsi's financial statements are still muddled, although they are not quite as intimidating as they were two years ago. What is easier to see, though, is where the business is going and what kind of growth investors can expect.
As Jeff has already noted, the Frito-Lay salty snacks business is the company's crown jewel and is deservedly getting the most attention from management. In fact, some observers are slowly warming up to the notion that PepsiCo is actually the world's largest snack food company first, and the number two soft drink maker second.
The company makes eight of the top ten selling chips in the U.S., while its Sabritas brand looms large over the Latin America market with a 75% share. Despite the market dominance, there is still room for growth. Americans are hooked on Frito-Lay snack foods, so future crunchy product innovations can probably be forced down consumers' throats with relative ease. Moreover, the company has one of the rarest of commodities in the food business -- pricing power -- meaning it can boost its top line with annual price increases without worrying too much about what the effects will be on sales volumes. That's a powerful advantage in the food business.
Other growth opportunities for the division exist in the eastern hemisphere. The roughly 50% market shares in both the U.K. and in Australia, while impressive, can be improved upon nonetheless. Further, Frito-Lay has virtually no presence in Western Europe or Asia, based mostly on the fact that continental Europeans think orange Chee-tos fingers are dï¿½classï¿½ and folks from Japan have a hard time distinguishing between Doritos and burritos, let alone Doritos and Tostitos.
Still, everybody likes a good snack every once and a while, regardless of where they live. So acquisitions in these regions would make sense, and the company is moving in this strategic direction. As part of its overall growth roadmap, Pepsi's management has established an annual acquisition budget of $1 billion for the next few years. Fattening up Frito-Lay International is the top priority.
Over in its namesake beverage business, the major growth opportunities we see involve beverages outside of Pepsi's main cola franchises, which should continue to grow as slowly and steadily as moss on an elm.
Growing fast is the company's Aquafina water business, which came out of nowhere to rack up $165 million in 1998 sales. That was enough to rank the brand fifth on the list of top-selling U.S. bottled water brands compiled by trade group Beverage Marketing Corp. Regardless of any underlying personal opinions on whether companies should be able to get away with selling an essential building block of life for profit, one must admit that the bottled water business is capitalistic brilliance at its profit-seeking finest. And the margins ain't that bad either, from what we can gather.
Other non-cola product areas are growing, too. Despite Jeff's comments yesterday, my real Pepsi product addiction is to Lipton Brisk bottled iced tea and not to the new Pepsi One soft drink. According to industry newsletter Beverage Digest, Lipton Brisk held a 34% market share in the bottled tea market last year, ahead of Coca-Cola's (NYSE: KO) Cool from Nestea product and the Snapple franchise.
Marketing spending for Lipton Brisk, which is a partnership between Pepsi and Unilever, is expected to increase to $24 million this year, up from the $15 million shelled out two years ago. The market opportunity is certainly there, considering 75% of U.S. households drink tea, but only an estimated 30% or so drink bottled teas such as Lipton Brisk or Cool from Nestea.
Other growth opportunities exist, but selling water, teas, and even Tropicana juices alongside the standby carbonated beverages in supermarket and convenience store coolers is a growth strategy that should yield healthy results for PepsiCo. in the future. Management execution will be key. We'll likely have more to say on that issue and others when we continue our look at Pepsi next week. We will surely have much more to say if you share your thoughts on the Drip Companies message board. Please do!
Until next week, have a safe and Foolish Friday the 13th weekend!
More from The Motley Fool
6 Ways to Make Your Retirement Savings Last
Breaking a big retirement rule is one of them.
Can You Really Make Money Mining Bitcoins?
Profits are not easy to come by. Expensive hardware and risky cloud mining deals are the main challenges.
3 Things to Watch in the Stock Market This Week
Look for Netflix, P&G, and Starbucks to make big moves over the next few trading days.