Shares of SodaStream International Ltd.SODA rose almost 24% on May 10, after it reported better-than-expected first-quarter 2016 result. Backed by the strong first-quarter performance, the company raised its full-year sales and profit guidance.
The growth plan of the Israel-based manufacturer of household soda machines, which focuses on transitioning from soda to a healthy water-based brand and building a more efficient infrastructure, appears to be gaining traction.
Adjusted earnings of 29 cents per share crushed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 15 cents by 93.3%. Earnings, however, declined 27.5% year over year due to inclusion of a financial gain in the fourth quarter of 2015. Sales and margins were strong in the quarter.
Total revenue of $100.9 million beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $89 million by 13.4%. Sales rose 10.4% year over year. The better-than-expected sales performance was driven by higher sales in Western Europe - its largest region - and improved sales in the Americas that offset currency headwinds.
The weakening of many foreign currencies such as the Euro, the Australian dollar and the Canadian dollar against the U.S. dollar had a negative impact of around $2.8 million on sales.
The Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock has been reporting weak sales figures over the past few quarters due to low demand for its products, which include soda/sparkling water machines and flavored syrups. SodaStream's products are primarily sold at major retail stores like Kohl's, Corp. KSS , Macy's, Inc. M and Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc. BBBY .
The carbonated soft drink (CSD) market is suffering as consumers are shifting away from traditional soda toward more natural, water-based beverages with fewer calories.
SodaStream is thus pursuing a global restructuring and growth plan. It is repositioning itself as a water-based brand under a health and wellness plan and making significant changes in its growth strategies to turn around the business.
As part of the plan, the company rolled out a range of natural water-enhanced flavors in the U.S. and some international markets last year. The company also launched an automated Sparkling Water Maker, named Power, supporting the launch with an integrated marketing campaign, including TV, PR and digital, as well as improved retail execution.
Also, the company has transformed its manufacturing base and operating structure - including consolidating production under the new Lehavim facility in Southern Israel and closing other legacy facilities - to enhance efficiency.
The company achieved better sales and profits in the first quarter on the back of new flavors on the shelf and improved efficiency and operating performance from the fully-functional Lehavim production facility.
Sales rose 15% in Western Europe, which account for approximately 62% of the global sales. The company's marketing efforts fuelled demand for its products in markets like France and the Nordics after several quarters of decline. Moreover, sales remained strong in countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Sales were up in a mid-teens range on a combined basis in these nations on strong gas refill unit growth.
SodaStream's revenues from the Americas, which account for around 23% of its global sales, inched up 1% as strong growth in Canada was offset by a modest decline in the U.S.
In the Asia Pacific, revenues decreased 2% due to currency headwinds. On a constant currency basis sales were flat, an improvement over the past several quarters as declines in Australia have moderated.
Finally, in Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa (CCEMA), sales surged 32%, primarily on sales of sparkling water makers and gas refills to the Czech distributor.
Volumes of sparkling water maker starter kits rose 11% year over year, while flavor units grew 7%. Carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) refill sales rose 12%.
Gross margins declined 160 basis points (bps) year over year to 50.7%. However, gross margins improved 270 bps sequentially on various cost-reduction initiatives.
Adjusted EBITDA was $12.3 million, up 61.7% year over year.
Adjusted operating income was $7.9 million, up 116.3% year over year. Operating margins rose 390 bps to 7.9% mainly as higher advertising/promotion expenses were offset by cost savings and improved efficiency from the enhanced operating structure. Negative currency impact hurt first-quarter operating income by $2.0 million.
Sales and marketing expenses (SM&A) rose around 1% o $32.7 million as higher advertising and promotion expenses offset the decrease in other sales and distribution expenses. SM&A, as a percentage of revenues, improved 310 bps year over year
2016 Outlook Raised
Total revenue for 2016 is expected to witness a slight year-over-year increase, better than the previous expectation of flat figures. Gross margins are expected to rise 200 bps from the fourth-quarter rate of 48%.
At the call, management clarified that though gross margins will fluctuate by quarter, they are expected to remain above 50% for the rest of the year.
Advertising/promotion costs, as a percentage of revenues, are expected to go up roughly 150 bps from the 2015 levels as the company works toward driving consumer demand for the new products.
Adjusted operating income is expected to be slightly above 2015 levels, better than the prior expectation of remaining unchanged.
Excluding the financial income from currency recorded in 2015, net income is expected to witness slight year-over-year growth in 2016.
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