Can Scarlett Johansson Turn SodaStream Shares Around?

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Taking on a celebrity as a brand representative is nothing new. It is a strategy that also does not come without risks. Now we have news that SodaStream International Ltd. (NASDAQ: SODA) has selected actress Scarlett Johansson as the brand’s first-ever Global Brand Ambassador. The question to ask here is whether or not using such a strong celebrity will help the stockholders or whether it will come at too big of a price.

Scarlett Johansson will become the face of a new marketing campaign for SodaStream.  The press release shows that this will be a multi-year partnership, and the first airing of a SodaStream commercial during Super Bowl XLVIII.

SodaStream apparently decided to go with a well-known face, as well as someone who is represented as a big fan of the company. The company called her a long-time user and genuine fan of SodaStream’s products, as well as “a role model for healthy body image and a champion for environmental responsibility.”

The company said, “The actress has loved sparkling water since childhood, which led her to discover SodaStream. Now a loyal user for years, Johansson has a soda maker in her home and is an enthusiastic fan of the brand.” Johansson even shows in the release that she has been giving SodaStream’s products as gifts for many years.

SodaStream shares have been trading as though the company is in serious trouble. At a close of $49.89 on Friday, the stock’s 52-week range is $45.25 to $77.80. That means that SodaStream shares are close to a 52-week low when the stock market is within a fizz of all-time highs.

KeyBanc Capital Markets just started SodaStream with a Buy rating and a $70 price target this last week. That is actually a conservative price target compared to elsewhere as this price target is more than $5 short  of the consensus price target.

SodaStream’s market cap is $1.04 billion, and the consensus estimates at Thomson Reuters show that the company’s expected sales for 2013 and 2104 are to be $564.3 million and $671.9 million, respectively. The stock trades at 19.4-times expected 2013 earnings and 15.2-times expected 2014 earnings.

The stock market performance would indicate that there are concerns about SodaStream being a fad product, and perhaps one which could have many competitors down the road. Another question to ask is how much the company is having to pay Scarlett Johansson to be its Brand Ambassador because financial terms of this relationship were not disclosed. Hiring celebrities is nothing new, but it is never free and it can come at a high price.

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