PepsiCo's (NASDAQ:PEP) stock touched $100 share in mid-day trading earlier this month only to give the gains back shortly thereafter. Shares of the soda and snack giant have climbed more than 6% so far this year to where they currently trade around $97 a pop.
Nevertheless, if you are one of the bears who think the stock is headed for a correction, think again. Pepsi is cooking up new products that promise outsized growth, rolling out healthier soda options to cater to consumers' changing tastes, and expanding lucrative distribution deals today. It is in this spirit that we will look at three catalysts that should help PepsiCo stock push past $100 per share and remain there before the year's end.
Innovation in existing product categories
Pepsi may be the world's largest snack food company today thanks to its highly profitable Frito-Lay business, but the company isn't resting on its laurels. Pepsi spent nearly 8% more on research and development costs last year -- a bet that looks to have paid off. Three of PepsiCo's products, including Mountain Dew Kickstart, Tostitos Cantina tortilla chips and salsa, and Muller yogurt, were recognized as winners of Nielsen's 2015 Breakthrough Innovation awards.
Yet those are just a few of many fresh snack and beverage items that Pepsi is rolling out to great fanfare these days. The company is creating a sense of urgency with limited-edition snacks such as its new Doritos Jacked 3D bacon cheddar ranch chips. Product innovation in its beverage business is also driving sales growth. The king of soda pop introduced Pepsi Limon to its drink portfolio earlier this year in hopes of capturing a larger share of the Hispanic market.
Consumers already enjoy Pepsi's products over one billion times a day in more than 200 countries. However, by continually rolling out new products and increasing its R&D budget, there is a good chance some of these product innovations will translate into PepsiCo's next billion-dollar brand. As it stands, Pepsi's product portfolio includes 22 brands, each of which generates annual sales north of $1 billion.
A healthier approach
If new product rollouts don't push Pepsi's stock higher, the company's renewed focus on offering healthier food and beverage options may do the trick. Diet soda has gotten a bad rap lately. However, Pepsi hopes to change that by unveiling its new aspartame-free diet Pepsi soda. The company will now offer Diet Pepsi, Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi, and Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi without any traces of aspartame.
This is a particularly smart move for the stock considering cola sales have been steadily declining recently due to underlying health concerns involving chemicals and artificial sweeteners found in soda. Ultimately, if Pepsi's new aspartame-free cola catches on with consumers, it could help offset falling sales of Pepsi's traditional sodas.
Expanding distribution deals
A new multi-year distribution deal between longtime strategic partners PepsiCo and Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) could also mean big things for the stock going forward. Together the two beverage giants hope to dominate Latin America's $4 billion ready-to-drink coffee and energy drink market. With the ready-to-drink coffee and energy drink space set to grow by as much as 22% over the next five years, this could mean outsized gains for both Pepsi & Starbucks.
Not to mention the two retail giants have a proven track record of success working together. More than two decades ago, Starbucks and Pepsi joined forces to create the North American Coffee Partnership, or NACP. Today, the NACP commands a jaw-dropping 97% of the ready-to-drink coffee category in the U.S. -- making it one of the most successful joint ventures in the history of the beverage industry.
These catalysts should help Pepsi deliver impressive earnings growth in the quarters ahead. As a result, I believe investors will continue to push the stock higher from here. Moreover, with less than a dollar to go before it breaks the coveted $100 mark, I'm confident the stock will hit its mark before year-end. Credit Suisse currently has a $105 price target on shares of PepsiCo, followed by a $101 price target from S&P Capital IQ.