Sodastream Play

SodaStream's recently released Play machine has yet to spark sales. So the company is placing a new bet on a well-known brand in its tie-up with Pepsi. Source: SodaStream

If you feel like ongoing rumors about SodaStream (NASDAQ:SODA) have left you with a bad aftertaste, well, that's understandable. We've had more than a few false alarms this year.

But the latest storyline seems to have a little more pop.

Multiple sources -- including SodaStream itself -- have confirmed that the Israeli-based maker of home carbonation devices is entering into an agreement with beverage juggernaut PepsiCo for a "small-scale, limited time test" involving its machines.

The announcement sent shares of SodaStream soaring 19% through midafternoon on Friday:

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Source: Yahoo! Finance. 

Pepsi shares were up only 0.65% on the news, indicating Mr. Market hardly sees this as a game changer for the beverage titan. At least not yet.

So what's the big deal?

Early Friday morning, the industry publication Beverage Digest first released news of the tie-up, which was also confirmed by both companies. Even though speculation about these two beverage specialists tying the knot has been bubbling over for more than a year, it appears Pepsi and SodaStream are going to take things slow at first. Here's a brief rundown of what we know about the agreement today:

What: Pepsi and SodaStream will run a 10-week test to gauge consumer demand for certain Pepsi flavors in SodaStream's do-it-yourself machines.

When: Sometime this fall or early winter is all that has been confirmed. SodaStream's related SEC filing says "later this year."

Where: Select markets in Florida.

Which flavors: Only "naturally sweetened" brands. According to Beverage Digest, this will feature Pepsi Homemade, Sierra Mist Homemade, Pepsi Homemade Vanilla, Pepsi Homemade Wild Cherry, Sierra Mist Homemade, Sierra Mist Homemade Peach, and Sierra Mist Homemade Cranberry.

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SodaStream has its own cabinet full of flavorings, but none have captured Americans' taste buds like Coke and Pepsi's sodas. Source: SodaStream.

How does this shake things up?
The partnership with Pepsi could allow SodaStream to align itself with a globally popular beverage brand and to put some marketing muscle behind the home carbonation concept.

After six years of 95% average annual revenue growth in the U.S., SodaStream has hit a wall in 2014. Many of its machines are sitting idly in thousands of U.S. retail outlets, and a partnership with Pepsi could give machine sales a much-needed jolt. Beverage Digest's report noted that key SodaStream retailers like Wal-Mart and Bed Bath & Beyond would be involved in the test run with Pepsi.

There could also be a takeover angle at play. Although many Fools, including myself, have been skeptical about the idea of SodaStream being bought out by a big beverage maker, it's clear that playing small ball in this industry can only get you so far. Just ask popular beverage brands like Vitaminwater, Honest Tea, or even Monster Beverage. All three were highly successful companies that eventually teamed up with beverage goliath Coca-Cola to reach a mass market.

Does this make SodaStream shares a buy?
While this is undoubtedly good news for SodaStream in the face of its flagging U.S. sales, the alliance with Pepsi hardly builds a fortress around the business. This is a first date for the two companies, and Pepsi is also courting another in-home dispenser maker: Beverage Digest reported that Pepsi will work with manufacturer Bevyz in Europe. Bevyz is also set to launch machines in the U.S. in a partnership with Cuisinart.

If anything, this is another small step toward validating the at-home beverage market. We knew it was bigger than a fad when Coca-Cola announced a relationship with Keurig Green Mountain earlier this year, but SodaStream's struggles suggested that a broad swath of American customers weren't all that interested in making their own soda. Perhaps it's just that they didn't have a reason to, and the presence of two century-old brands in Coke and Pepsi could change the equation.

Only time will tell if SodaStream takes a liking to Pepsi, and vise versa. First we'll have to see if customers have a thirst for these novelty "homemade" flavors. What will they taste like? Is "Pepsi Homemade" the company's artisan-inspired version of Mexican Coke? Considering SodaStream's anti-high fructose corn syrup stance, it's likely Pepsi remixed the new flavors with real cane sugar. No news on that yet, however.

With so many wide-ranging questions still unanswered, stalkers of SodaStream's stock should hold off for the time being. We'll find out soon enough if Pepsi lovers dig what SodaStream's dispensing.

Isaac Pino, CPA owns shares of SodaStream. The Motley Fool recommends Coca-Cola, Keurig Green Mountain, Monster Beverage, PepsiCo, and SodaStream. The Motley Fool owns shares of Monster Beverage, PepsiCo, and SodaStream and has the following options: long January 2016 $37 calls on Coca-Cola and short January 2016 $37 puts on Coca-Cola. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.