There were two possible outcomes when Hansen Natural (Nasdaq: HANS) reported first-quarter earnings on Wednesday night.

It could have been a great quarter of blowing analyst expectations out of the water and sending the energy-drink expert's stock on a hyperbolic trajectory over Wall Street. That would have been great for shareholders looking to sell, and for prospective short-sellers expecting the stock chart to correct again somewhere down the road.

But Hansen went the other way: Earnings of $0.29 per diluted share on $212 million in net sales fell short of Mr. Market's hopes and dreams. The next morning, Hansen opened at an 18% discount to the previous night's closing price.

It's a deal! It's a steal!
The formerly high-flying stock that traded at more than 60 times trailing earnings only two quarters ago can now be had for a sleek trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 18.4. That's cheaper than the P/E valuations you see in Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) or PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP) these days.

Hansen may not have impressed the analysts this time, but earnings still improved by more than 42% over last year. You know there's a great deal afoot when stodgy old behemoths like Coke and Pepsi make one of the fastest-growing consumer-products stocks on the market look cheap by comparison. Heck, even Tootsie Roll (NYSE: TR) sports a 25.9 P/E ratio, despite shrinking net income over the past three years. Something has got to give, and I think it'll be a bouncing Hansen stock.

Calibrate your expectations here
It's not even as if Hansen lost market share. Nielsen says that Monster Energy gained 6 points of North American market share, quarter-over-quarter, in an expanding energy drink market. Privately held Red Bull is still the revenue leader with a 36% market share but no share growth, and Monster is coming on strong with a 27.5% slice of the heavily caffeinated pie.

Gross margins did weaken by 2.3 percentage points year over year. That's the impact of Java Monster now accounting for 14% of Hansen's energy drink sales -- it's a more expensive drink to make, sensitive to changes in price on milk and coffee. But disciplined operations still led to improvements in operating and net margins.

Hansen is just getting started on expansion in Europe, where Red Bull reigns supreme, and hasn't even looked at Asia yet. There's a lot of global growth left on the table, and Hansen hasn't fully exploited North America. So I can't help believing this stock is worth a lot more than 18 times earnings.

Housekeeping items
With the results and the fire sale on shares squared away, let's just settle one of my pet peeves with Hansen, once and for all.

You know I'd like to see the company calling some outside cavalry into the boardroom to help Hansen cope with international expansion opportunities and economies of scale. But I don't think it's ever going to happen.

CEO and Chairman Rodney Sacks said he was spending way too much time nowadays talking to investors and analysts, and not enough on running the business. So he's cutting back on management availability for interviews and such and instead plans a recurring mid-quarter conference call to keep everybody current. So one astute analyst asked whether Hansen might not be better off hiring an investor relations manager.

"The business is very personal, we are very much on of top of it," said Sacks. "And we just believe we are better served where we are being involved and remain involved in dealing with investors, but at the same time it is a pretty big drain on our time."

If that's how Sacks feels about simply hiring an IR person, we can't really hope for outsiders meddling in the business plans, now, can we? So I won't mention it anymore, Rodney, but you know what I think.

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