Blue Christmas for Keurig Green Mountain?

By Rick

Image source: Keurig Green Mountain.

These are dark-roasted days atKeurig Green Mountain. The company that ushered in the era of single-serve premium brews and is now trying to make its mark on carbonated beverages isn't making too many friends in the analyst community.

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SunTrustRobinson Humphrey issued a cautionary note on Keurig Green Mountain this week, hosing down its earnings forecast for the next couple of years on growth and Keurig Kold concerns. The gloomy analyst note came after trend tracker Nielsen put out data showing that K-Cup volumes were up 13.7% over the past 12 weeks.

Most consumer-facing companies would kill for that kind of double-digit growth, but Keurig's coffee pods grew at a 29.8% clip during the same period a year earlier. This isn't just a matter of lamenting deceleration on the top line. Keurig has been burned in the past by overestimating actual demand, leaving it overstocked in inventory heading into the holiday shopping season. Keurig hasn't been as bad at gauging demand as SodaStream -- a company it now competes directly on the carbonated beverage maker front -- but it's still an issue given the limited shelf life of K-Cups and the intense discounting that could take place to clear out a surplus of both pods and brewers.

SunTrust Robinson Humphrey's analysts feel that Keurig's moves to roll out different packaging and new flavors aren't panning out, something that as fate would have it has also been a problem lately at SodaStream on the soda front.

Speaking of the soda front, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey isn't very optimistic about Keurig Kold's chances to gain market traction, at least not at today's prices. Keurig Kold has only been on the market for less than two months, but it's easy to write it off as a head-turning product this critical holiday shopping season.

Keurig has been hyping its entry into the carbonated market for nearly two years, but there were plenty of negative signs ahead of the late September launch of Keurig Kold. Soda consumption has been falling over the past decade, and SodaStream's once heady growth as the market leader of carbonated beverage makers has turned into deep stateside declines. Then we were introduced to Keurig Kold, a product that isn't as convenient or economical as we were hoping to see.

SunTrust Robinson Humphrey doesn't like what it's seeing. It still sees Keurig Green Mountain checking in with an annual profit of $3.42 a share for the fiscal year that ended in September -- it reports on Wednesday afternoon -- but it's lowering its bottom-line targets for the next two years. It sees a profit of $3.35 a share in the new fiscal year and $3.73 a share come fiscal 2017. It was previously perched at $3.55 a share for fiscal 2016 and $4 a share the following year. This means that SunTrust Robinson Humphrey expects earnings to actually decline slightly in the year ahead, and that's not going to look good to the growth investors that haven't bailed on Keurig Green Mountain after a brutal year. Then again, after seeing its stock shed roughly two-thirds of its value over the past year, the hope here has to be that even this likely grim holiday shopping season has already been discounted.

The article Blue Christmas for Keurig Green Mountain? originally appeared on

Rick Munarriz owns shares of Keurig Green Mountain and SodaStream. The Motley Fool owns shares of SodaStream. The Motley Fool recommends Keurig Green Mountain. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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