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Starbucks Gets Bubbly?

By: Minyanville
Posted: 10/15/2013 12:04:00 PM
Referenced Stocks: GMCR;SBUX;SODA

Last month, the coffee powerhouse Starbucks ( SBUX ) filed the term "Fizzio" with the US Patent and Trademark Office. According to a report from the Associated Press , Fizzio will be used as the name for a line of drinks and a beverage machine. Moreover, a spokesman for Starbucks told the AP that the filing was directly linked to the company's testing of several new carbonated drinks in Atlanta, Georgia, and Austin, Texas.

Recently, Starbucks has been in an active phase of expansion and diversification. The Fizzio news follows Starbuck's strong push into the fresh juice market, and its update of its food menu with the acquisition of San Francisco-based bakery La Boulange. The company last year reportedly spent $15 million in advertising alone for its Verismo coffee system, a home-brewing coffee machine meant to compete directly with the Keurig (K-Cup) machine sold by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters ( GMCR ).

And one more thing: Starbucks acquired the high-end tea retailer Teavana Holdings (NYSE:TEA) last year for $620 million, looking to broaden its scope even further.

Given all of these recent expansions and investments, the launch of Fizzio seems like a natural move into another growing consumer niche: relatively healthy and self-carbonated soda products. SodaStream ( SODA ) currently leads the field, and Fizzio will likely be branded as a competitor.

A Starbucks spokeswoman told Ad Age that the company "has not announced any plans about expanded availability" for Fizzio, and that it does not have plans "for an at-home machine at this time." The trademark filed with the USPTO stipulates a beverage machine, but it won't necessarily be for home use. It's possible that Starbucks is covering its bases by claiming the name now for a rollout a few years from now. However, given the rate of expansion and new investment at Starbucks, it is definitely possible that we'll be seeing some bubbles from the king of retail coffee.

Follow me on Twitter: @JoshWolonick and @Minyanville