by Jeff Reeves | January 5, 2012 10:44 am
After the Great Recession, consumers started focusing on brewing premium beverages at home to save a few bucks. One popular gadget aimed at that market is produced by SodaStream International (NASDAQ:SODA), which provides in-home carbonation ranging from fizzy treats to fancy alcoholic drinks.
SodaStream has been seeing big sales growth since it went public in 2010. Sales are set to jump 22% in fiscal 2011, and the company has blown away profit forecasts in each of the last four quarters.
Next up for SodaStream: A big-time partnership with the big-name beverage brands of Crystal Light and Country Time lemonade. The stock popped 10% in early trading Thursday as a result of the news today — but is it enough to keep SODA stock from losing its fizz like so many “fad” stocks have done? Already, by midmorning the stock’s jump was trimmed to just over 5%.
Kraft Foods (NYSE:KFT) announced the deal with SodaStream today with its top brands becoming available on SodaStream’s in-home carbonation systems. Much like Green Mountain Coffee (NASDAQ:GMCR) did with its Keurig single-brew coffee machines, SODA is relying on consumers loyal to a particular brand to give their pricey kitchen appliances a shot. Keurig’s coffee machines boast java branded “K-Cups” of coffee by Dunkin Donuts (NASDAQ:DNKN), Caribou Coffee (NASDAQ:CBOU) and even Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX).
Therein lies the problem, though. While Keurig was a roaring success in previous years, there are signs that momentum is waning and that investors are skeptical of the company’s future growth prospects. After all, after folks have one machine they hardly need another — and the brewers themselves are sold nearly at cost, and the lion’s share of profits comes from licensing the coffee-filled K-Cups that GMCR has patented.
The result is that, while Green Mountain Coffee has seen its revenue increase five-fold since 2008 and its stock is up 10-times over in the same period, GMCR shares are down 50% in the last six months or so. The bears have started sharpening their claws, wondering if the fad of Keurig is about to fade.
SodaStream appears to be growing still, though it faces the same headwinds. Consider that while 27% of outstanding Green Mountain shares are owned by short-side traders — that is, investors betting the stock will drop — Sodastream boasts an ugly 58% short interest. That means more than half the shareholders of available SODA stock are betting against the company.
Not a good sign.
Of course, the deal with Kraft could send some of those short-sellers scurrying for the exits. Just because most people are betting against a stock doesn’t mean it can’t succeed.
However, the risk of trendy consumer stocks has been chronicled many times on Wall Street. Fads like Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX) run up and then flame out spectacularly.
Will SodaStream be the next big-time flop? Maybe. Personally I don’t think Country Time and Crystal Light have the currency to single-handedly save the stock. I have been bearish on SODA stock for some time, and I think the fizz in shares today is probably just some short covering as traders hedge their bets.
But if SodaStream can keep offering tasty beverages cheaply and conveniently via home-carbonation systems, it could be around for a long time. The company is up about 18% since it started trading and continues to post strong profits and revenue. In the end, those are the only results that investors really care about.
Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com. Write him at editor@investorplace??.com, follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook. Jeff Reeves holds a position in Alcoa, but no other publicly traded stocks.
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