Alternative soda-pop brewer Jones Soda (Nasdaq: JSDA) -- you know, the one with the carbonated turkey-and-gravy Thanksgiving drink -- will report fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday night. Fizzy and flavorful, or as stale as a cup of flat, warm, store-brand diet cola? Let's have a taste of tidings to come.

What Fools say:
Here's how Jones' CAPS rating stacks up against some of its peers and competitors:

Market Cap (Millions)

Trailing P/E Ratio

CAPS Rating
(Out of 5)

Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO)

$137,977

23.1

****

PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP)

$112,189

20.5

*****

Cadbury Schweppes (NYSE: CSG)

$22,930

28.9

*****

Hansen Natural (Nasdaq: HANS)

$3,816

27.1

****

Jones Soda

$132

207.2

**

Data taken from Motley Fool CAPS on 3/5/08.

Soft drinks have become a hot commodity again, thanks to new and innovative potions from every corner of the market. But despite being among the cleverest of all the master mixers, Jones gets no love from your fellow Fools. The bears think Jones is overpriced, and they can't find the soda in local stores. Bulls admit that the stock is "speculative," but they do see the brand popping up in more and more convenience stores and supermarkets.

What management does:
Oh, dear. Cash is flowing out, not in, and GAAP income is going down the drain, too. That's because Jones is spending big money nowadays on marketing and "slotting fees," or cash paid to retailers to guarantee some shelf space -- $1.3 million in the last quarter, compared with only $60,000 a year earlier. That's a significant chunk of the slender $13 million gross quarterly revenue.

Margins

6/06

9/06

12/06

3/07

6/07

9/07

Gross

36.3%

36.3%

39.2%

39.8%

38.5%

36.3%

Operating

6.4%

4.3%

7.1%

5.8%

2.2%

(4.2%)

Net

10.3%

8.2%

11.7%

11.7%

5.6%

1.5%

Free Cash Flow/Revenue

6.3%

9.8%

0.9%

(1.4%)

(3.7%)

(12.2%)

Year-Over-Year Growth

6/06

9/06

12/06

3/07

6/07

9/07

Revenue

21.3%

21.1%

16.5%

11.5%

16.5%

16.5%

Earnings

983.4%

292.6%

256.5%

265%

(37%)

(79.3%)

All data courtesy of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data reflects trailing-12-month performance for the quarters ended in the named months.

One Fool says:
Chairman and CEO Peter van Stolk left his corner office at the end of December. His interim replacements bring a wealth of upper-management marketing experience from the likes of Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX), Coke, and Nike (NYSE: NKE), so perhaps we shouldn't be shocked to see a greater emphasis on brand awareness. Expect marketing costs leading to another loss, although sales should be up significantly with a much larger store presence.

Jones is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick, Starbucks is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation, and Coke and Cadbury have a home in our Motley Fool Inside Value scorecard. Grab a couple of free 30-day trials and read all about 'em.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares of Coca-Cola and Hansen Natural but holds no position in any of the other companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure is the Punxsutawney Phil of financial forecasting.