Keurig Kold Stumble Could Bring a Big Accidental Victory for SodaStream

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Keurig Green Mountain Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR) was supposed to see its next big leg up in the business come from its arrangement that ties in with Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO), and of course Coca-Cola owns a big stake of Keurig Green Mountain. It turns out that the launch of Keurig Kold and the pricing of the machines may become a windfall for SodaStream International Ltd. (NASDAQ: SODA).

As of February, Coca-Cola had a 16% stake in Keurig Green Mountain, with its 25.87 million shares at the time. Still, the media presentation left enough issues about the pricing that Keurig shares hit a 52-week low. SodaStream has had problems of its own, and its 52-week low in February put shares down by more than two-thirds from the levels seen in mid-2013.

The Keurig Kold is now facing a slower than anticipated release, and with prices that are higher than what was expected. A slower release is good for SodaStream — as is the higher price.

Stifel’s analyst team now does not expect real holiday season retail distribution of Keurig Kold until 2016. That is just that much more of a win for SodaStream. For instance, at Costco consumers can buy the SodaStream Metal Source Soda Machine for $99.99. The media reports now are that the Keurig Kold will run $299 to $369.

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So, the question here will boil down to growth versus value. SodaStream may have been on the market longer and may have slowed down in growth, but the relative pricing might be a disaster for Keurig and a victory for SodaStream. Analysts still expect a 15% decline in sales (to $435 million) for SodaStream in 2015 and a 7% revenue gain in 2016 (to $465 million).

Keurig sales are expected to grow not even 2% in 2015 (to $4.8 billion) but to grow 13% in 2016 (to $5.4 billion). The difference here is the timing of the fiscal year for Keurig, with a September year-end missing the holiday season. Those estimates might be coming down handily now.

Keurig shareholders even got to see news that Glancy Prongay & Murray is now “investigating potential claims on behalf of investors of Keurig Green Mountain” related to the company’s recent disclosures regarding slowdowns in the sale of the Keurig 2.0 brewer and about the delayed launch of the Keurig Kold brewer. In short, that is a prelude to a class action suit.

Keurig shares were down over 7% on Friday at $95.40, with more than 5.5 million shares trading hands in the first 90 minutes of trading. That is already over three-times the normal trading volume. It also hit a 52-week low of $93.34 earlier in the day, down from a 52-week high of $158.85. The consensus analyst target price is $124.50. All of a sudden, Coca-Cola’s investment is looking less rewarding.

SodaStream shares were up 2.6% at $22.30 in the first 90 minutes of trading, but its volume of 220,000 shares was still not even half of an average day’s trading volume. SodaStream shares have a 52-week range of $16.80 to $41.33, and the stock’s consensus price target is only $21.67.

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Is the short interest helping or hurting here? For the April 30 settlement date, Keurig saw its short interest increase to 7.96 million, with 7.0 days to cover, from 7.03 million with 6.3 days to cover in mid-April. These are the first two readings where Keurig had more than 7 million shares short since last September. SodaStream saw its short interest increase slightly to 3.39 million, with 8.8 days to cover, from the previous reading of 3.17 million with 8.4 days to cover.

With Coca-Cola as a backer of Keurig, one might have considered that they could have used predatory pricing to gain market share against SodaStream. If all the available information turns out to be true, that just does not look like the case here.

Keurig shares initially rose handily around its Coca-Cola stake deal — and SodaStream shares have fallen substantially. A stumble at Keurig does not assure a victory for SodaStream, but it certainly could end up being an accidental win.