What: Shares of beverage giant Dr Pepper Snapple Group (NYSE:DPS) were getting a caffeine buzz last month, rising 13% according to data from S&P Capital IQ. As the chart below shows, shares rose steadily throughout the month as the stock got a jolt from its third-quarter earnings report.
So what: Riding a growth wave in still beverages, Dr Pepper Snapple shares jumped 6% on Oct. 22, following its earnings release as the soda maker topped expectations on the top and bottom lines. Earnings per share improved from $0.96 a year ago to $1.05, beating estimates by $0.02, while revenues improved 3% to $1.63 billion, above the analyst mark at $1.6 billion. Bottled waters and its Clamato tomato beverage were particularly strong, growing 16% and 15%, respectively. The company also lifted its full-year EPS guidance to $3.92-$3.98, up from a previous range of $3.85-$3.93.
With shares doubling over the last two years, Dr Pepper Snapple has significantly outperformed rivals The Coca Cola Co. (NYSE:KO) and PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP), which have struggled with the domestic decline in soda consumption. Since Dr Pepper Snapple primarily sells its products and North America, the company has escaped many of the currency-related challenges that have plagued its larger peers, and its strong position in still beverages has also been an advantage as more Americans turn away from sugary and diet sodas.
Now what: Much of Dr Pepper Snapple’s gains over the last two years have come because of multiple expansion or an increase in its valuation as its P/E has jumped from 15 to 23.5. That figure is lower than Coke’s or Pepsi’s, but it indicates that the torrid growth investors have seen over the last two years is likely to slow down. Still, the company’s consistent share repurchases and a solid dividend yield of 2.5% should provide reliable and steady growth.
Challenges remain for the soft-drink industry as a whole, but with its diversified portfolio and geographic focus, Dr Pepper Snapple seems to be a better bet than industry leaders Coca-Cola and Pepsi.