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SodaStream Headed In The Right Direction

It's been quite a while since I've covered SodaStream (NASDAQ:SODA). The company that allows you to make your own soda and other beverages at home is in the midst of a large transition. In early 2015, I detailed how the situation was worse than previously thought, and this has been quite a tough year. A stronger dollar has hurt results, and US sales have dropped precipitously. However, things are starting to look better, putting this name on the list of stocks to consider for 2016.

Recent news to discuss

There are three big pieces of news concerning the company over the last month or so that I need to discuss. The first is the late August purchase of 30,000 shares by CEO Daniel Birnbaum. As the article details, this stock buy significantly increased his position in the stock. The average cost was about $13.95, basically where shares closed last Thursday. Investors like to see company insiders buying shares, so it's nice to see a CEO putting his money behind his firm.

The second positive item is that Pepsico (NYSE:PEP) has expanded its partnership with SodaStream, offering soda caps on SodaStream's website and in about 50 of Bed, Bath, and Beyond's (NASDAQ:BBBY) US stores. There had been a limited test in 2014, and this agreement shows that Pepsico is willing to move forward with SodaStream for now. There has been a ton of talk in recent years about Pepsico buying out SodaStream, and maybe if this partnership works out over the next year, that could eventually be a possibility.

Finally, SodaStream recently announced that it has appointed John Sheppard as the President of SodaStream US. Sheppard is a proven beverage industry leader, with over 25 years of experience, at firms such as Coca-Cola, Cott, and Oneida. Sheppard will take over all aspects of US operations, and will look to turn around sales in this ever challenging US beverage environment.

Estimates hopefully close to bottoming

It has been a tough year for SodaStream between the major transition and currency issues. You can see the company's growth plan on its investor relations website, where the firm details its plans going forward. With sales declining, we've seen a dramatic drop in analyst estimates for 2015, as seen in the table below.

*Revenue growth percentage for top half of table is based on 2014 revenue estimate on that specific date. Bottom half of table uses the final 2014 revenue figure. See all estimates here.

If there is a silver lining, it is that quarterly comparisons are getting better, especially as the dollar's year over year rise flattens out. For Q3, the company is expected to post an 11.3% revenue decline, with just a 4.4% decline forecast in Q4. Next year, analysts are calling for a rebound in sales.

A chance to strike - the failure of Kold

Recently, coffee giant Keurig Green Mountain (NASDAQ:GMCR) launched its Kold system to expand into the cold beverage platform. Even though Keurig has partnered with Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), the high price of the Kold system and its pods have many including myself skeptical that the product will gain any traction. Between the exorbitant price and a limited rollout in the near-term, the Kold might flop before it even has a chance to get going.

In my opinion, this creates an opportunity for SodaStream, which needs to make consumers aware of its products' value proposition, especially in comparison to Kold. I think this holiday season is critical for SodaStream in recapturing the US consumer, so it might be worth it to spend a little extra on marketing to gain some market share. This is where the company's new US President needs to make his presence felt.

Final thoughts

I decided to return to SodaStream because I believe the company is headed in the right direction. Recent news has been positive, and troubles that plagued the company in 2015 are starting to wear off. SodaStream currently trades at under 14 times adjusted expected earnings for 2016, a 10% discount to Keurig, and I believe SodaStream has more growth potential. While I do believe SodaStream shares could be a bit choppy as 2015 ends, given another quarter or so of negative results, I think the name could end up being one of 2016's winners if the company can execute its plan.


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