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Monster Earnings Shy of Expectations

Monster Beverage Corp.'s (MNST - Get Report) third-quarter earnings were not the beast investors expected.

The energy drink producer said after the close on Wednesday, Nov. 8, that it totaled net sales of $909.5 million during the quarter ended Sept. 30, up 15.4% year over year and ahead of the consensus estimate of $904.6 million, according to analysts surveyed by FactSet. Earnings of 39 cents per share were just shy of the expected 40 cents per share.

Monster shares were down 1.6% to $57.10 in after-hours trading Wednesday.

Coca-Cola Co. (KO - Get Report) owns a 17.97% stake in Monster, paying $2.2 billion for the stake in June 2015, adding distribution and scale to the energy drink company. Beyond reconfiguring its bottling operations, Coca-Cola hasn't struck a major deal since then, building speculation that it might buy out Monster.

"Continued chatter of a potential KO bid," encouraging Nielsen NV sales data and weak results in the same quarter last year "should all continue to support the stock," Susquehanna Financial Group LLLP analyst Pablo Zuanic wrote on Monday, noting that Monster stock has outperformed its peers since last quarter. "Improved fundamentals and the KO factor justify the recent rerating."

Monster has focused on new product launches aimed at female customers who would normally drink Starbucks Corp. (SBUX - Get Report) beverages, with a lower energy content, fewer calories and "less formidable, less intimidating" marketing, CEO Rodney Sachs told the Beverage Forum in April. The company has struggled with production capacity for those products, including the Java Monster canned coffee drink, Hydro enhanced water and Frappuccino competitor Caffe. Those issues should drop off in the next few quarters, according to Cowen and Co. LLC analyst Vivien Azer.

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