It's been syrupy sweet to be a SodaStream investor these days. After rising a mere 4% in 2011, its first full year as a public company, SodaStream shares moved 37% higher last year and are trading 10% higher so far in 2013.
This has already shaped up to be an exciting year for SodaStream, with its first Super Bowl ad and another market-thumping quarterly report last month. Now this week, the company behind the popular beverage maker that turns tap water into sparkling soda teamed up with another notable partner. Private-label bottler Cott will begin producing SodaStream's existing flavors at its facility in Georgia.
Centralized regional distribution with a proven soft drink bottler doesn't turn heads or move stocks. And the irony of having a generic bottler help out SodaStream's mission of ridding the world of canned pop was lost on a humorless Mr. Market. However, let's go over a few things that would get SodaStream's shares popping.
1. Strike a Monster deal
SodaStream has made allies with some pretty powerful beverage brands. Since early last year alone, we've seen deals that have had Crystal Light, Kool-Aid, and, more recently, V8 emerging as SodaStream flavors.
But there's been a void in the partnerships for the energy-drink market. That's probably because SodaStream has its own energy-drink syrup. Since canned carbonated energy drinks retail for far more than traditional sodas, it's actually one of the better relative values in SodaStream's growing portfolio of flavors. However, a good way to draw attention to the ability to economically fizz up energy drinks at home would be to team up with a recognized leader in the niche.
Red Bull and Monster are the two undisputed leaders in the energy-drink market. Even the soda giants haven't been able to strip them of their leadership. One can argue that Red Bull would be insane to go this route. The top dog is a global juggernaut with little to gain by selling itself short. Monster, on the other hand, could take advantage of SodaStream's long-standing international appeal. Just 21% of SodaStream's gross sales happened outside the United States.
Monster also has several different brands. If it's afraid of cannibalization or diluting its namesake brand, it can always tiptoe into these adrenaline-boosting waters with one of its smaller brands.
2. Dive into the wellness market
Despite New York City Major Michael Bloomberg's defeat earlier this month on an ordinance that would have limited the sale of supersized soft drinks, sugary soft drinks will continue to come under fire. Childhood obesity levels are too high, and sipping large amounts of soda opens up the possibility of health risks.
Coca-Cola had a novel idea a few years ago: It put out a line of its signature Diet Coke packed with vitamins and minerals. An 8-ounce serving of Diet Coke Plus packs 15% of the recommended daily intake of niacin and vitamins B6 and B12, as well as 10% of the suggested daily levels for zinc and magnesium.
Diet Coke Plus hasn't exactly taken off, but there's still a market for functional beverages. Why else would Coca-Cola have spent billions on the vitaminwater brand?
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters last year introduced a Wellness Brewed line of K-Cups loaded with antioxidant vitamins and minerals. At a time when sodas and coffee -- and energy drinks, for that matter -- are coming under fire for health concerns, the smart path appears to be to play the wellness card.
Wellness drinks haven't really taken off for Coca-Cola or Green Mountain, but they settle arguments. They offer alternatives. Then again, who knows if it would be what works for SodaStream, as the home-crafted nature of its beverages opens the door for more label-reading than usual.
3. Keep on winning
A key ingredient to generating market-thumping returns is to beat Wall Street's profit targets. SodaStream has done that with surprising consistency since going public nearly three years ago.
SodaStream needs to keep doing exactly that. Landing ahead of Wall Street estimates isn't just about the quarterly wins. They add up over time. Many consumer-facing stocks have seen their bottom-line projections hosed down in recent months. That's not SodaStream. Analysts have gone from targeting $2.87 a share in 2014 earnings three months ago to $3.20 a share now.
In other words, if you think SodaStream is cheap at 15 times next year's earnings, just keep watching that estimate creep higher with every passing beat.