Investors can easily lose money by investing in fads. Many businesses come up with "hot" products that lack long-term usefulness. Crocs is one of the best examples of this. Its shares quintupled in just a couple of years after its 2006 IPO to hit $70 per share, but now trade for less than $15.
Even still, the market gets it wrong sometimes by confusing a viable product with a fad. SodaStream (NASDAQ:SODA) is over 50% off its 52-week high with a short interest of 33%. A perfect storm of bad news has pushed the stock to multi-year lows. However, for investors who are willing to focus on the long term, now could be a great buying opportunity. It's also a feel good, environmentally friendly story, as it helps cut down on plastic bottle waste.
Coke's entry into at-home beverages
Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) is hoping to get into the at-home beverage market through a partnership with Keurig, but it still lags SodaStream in terms of infrastructure. Coca-Cola now owns 16% of Keurig, up from its initial 10%. However, CO2 cartridges require a network and expertise to build, two things that SodaStream already has.
SodaStream's business model
SodaStream makes money from selling the machine, the bottle, the carbonation and the syrup. The carbonation and syrup provide recurring revenue streams. Its business model doesn't require much capital and its gross margin is 50%. SodaStream also has a strong presence internationally--Western Europe has seen revenue growth of over 30% for the past two years.
The company's operating margin is currently being held down by sales of machines in the U.S. But once it has a large base of installed machines, its margin should start to rise. That's because the consumable products that SodaStream offers have higher margins. Switzerland is a mature market, saturated with machines, where consumables make up 80% of the company's sales. As a result, it has a 25% operating margin there, compared to an operating margin of 5% in the U.S.
The speculation that PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP) might buy SodaStream is dying down. That doesn't mean the two couldn't partner together, or that PepsiCo wouldn't make an equity investment in SodaStream. However, PepsiCo remains in an active battle with activist billionaire Nelson Peltz, which has been going on for a while now. Peltz is pushing for a spin-off of PepsiCo's snack and beverage business. PepsiCo believes that offering both beverages and snacks provides unrivaled synergies, and that the combination gives the company negotiating power with purchasers.
Last year, SodaStream added Wal-Mart as a partner and started selling SodaStream products in Wal-Mart stores. Other potential opportunities include eventually working with major refrigerator manufacturers to install SodaStream machines.
How the shares stack up
SodaStream looks to be one of the best investments around, and not just in the beverage industry. The shares trade at a P/E to growth ratio of only 0.66. The stock actually trades below either Coca-Cola or PepsiCo on a price-to-earnings basis. What you will get with Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are solid dividends, as both yield 2.9%.
Coca-Cola's partnership with Keurig might not be as big of a threat to SodaStream as many fear. SodaStream's strong recurring revenue and presence abroad make it a compelling investment. For investors looking for a solid play in the beverage industry, SodaStream is worth a closer look.