Sometimes it takes years for buyout chatter to come to fruition.
PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP) is announcing that it will be acquiring SodaStream (NASDAQ:SODA) in an all-cash deal valued at $3.2 billion. Both boards have approved the transaction that will cash out SodaStream investors at $144 a share. The purchase is expected to close in January, as long as the majority of SodaStream shareholders vote in favor of the deal.
It's been years since the potential of PepsiCo buying SodaStream first bubbled to the surface. An Israeli business publication wrote that the world's second largest beverage company was in talks to buy SodaStream -- paying as much as $2 billion or $96 a share -- in the springtime of 2013. The chatter was quickly debunked by PepsiCo, and it took a little more than five years with plenty of twists and turns along the way to finally happen.
The PepsiCo buyout is bittersweet. SodaStream is rolling these days, and it doesn't seem as if investors are getting much of a buyout premium given the kind of momentum in the corner of the company behind the namesake makers of carbonated beverages. PepsiCo's Monday morning press release bills the proposed purchase as a 32% premium to the stock's 30-day average, but that's not exactly fair. SodaStream stock soared after coming through with another blowout quarter earlier this month. PepsiCo is picking up one of the beverage industry's hottest stocks for a mere 11% markup to Friday's close.
Desperate companies accept 11% premiums, not stocks hitting all-time highs earlier this month. Out-of-favor investments sign off on a mark-up of 11%, not a stock that has been an 11-bagger since bottoming out in early 2016. This month's stellar quarter was enough to send the stock into the triple digits for the first time ever. Revenue and earnings per share soared 31% and 78%, respectively. You don't just hand over the keys to someone in a cash buyout for a meager premium -- unless you know that rough days are coming in the future.
SodaStream has been here before. It was rolling back in 2013 when the PepsiCo chatter was fizzing. SodaStream was already a rock star -- OK, a pop star -- in Europe and making waves in the soda-thirsty U.S. market when the original story matching the two companies up surfaced. It was growing despite soft drink consumption trends declining, and it had no problem calling out the cola giants in Super Bowl ads and traveling exhibits. SodaStream was on top of the world, until it wasn't. Sales began to slump. The novelty of making soft drinks at home started to wear thin.
Revenue would go on to decline in 2014 and the the negative growth accelerated in 2015. It wasn't until investors hit rock bottom in early 2016 that SodaStream's appliance started to cash in on the flavored sparkling water craze. Folks were replacing pop with carbonated water flavored with fruity essences. Millennials began cracking open cans of LaCroix and beverage sippers of all ages began trading in soft drinks for sparkling water. SodaStream was in the right place at the right time, making it one of the market's best stocks since 2016.
There are no immediate signs that the party's over for SodaStream, but if it feels that the time to punch out is now -- at a premium that seems to defy the stock's torrid gains over the past three years -- the company may be seeing something that we don't. Maybe sparkling beverage trends are waning, or maybe it feels that its best shot at succeeding at this point is in the hands of a more powerful beverage giant with broader distribution and greater financial resources. PepsiCo has to know this, too, if it's scoring an effervescent comeback darling at a price that seems to be cheating shareholders of where momentum would be organically taking the SodaStream stock in another quarter or two. Shareholders may not be as quick to sign off on this deal as SodaStream's board did, but longtime investors should also remember the pitfalls of having too much pride in a product catering to fickle audiences.