Is The Beverage Industry Now Like The High-Tech Sector?
There was an excellent recent article in Benzinga that reviewed five potential acquisition candidates for Google that ran during the same period that Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) was investing $1.2 billion in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Another piece detailed how that transaction by Coca-Cola was a "tell" into its changing business line and operating model.
Like Google and other tech giants, Coca-Cola and other dominant firms in the beverage industry appear to be headed on a growth by acquisition binge.
Takeovers in the beverage industry are certainly nothing new.
What is different is how these new acquisitions will be counted on heavily for growth ahead. No longer will it be primarily organic. That is true abroad as it is at home: Coca-Cola's massive expansion campaign in China is focused on buying other companies, too.
This is understandable looking at the growth trajectory for Coca-Cola.
Earnings-per-share growth for Coca-Cola over the past five years was 9 percent. Over the next few year, the analyst community predicts that it will be 6.70 percent. In the next half decade, Wall Street is looking for Coca-Coal's earnings-per-share growth to be more than 20 pecent lower than it was during The Great Recession.
The same future is expected for other beverage industry giants by Wall Street.
The earnings-per-share growth rate for Anheuser-Busch Inbev (NYSE: BUD) over the last five years was 7.80 percent. For the next decade, it is projected to be 6.20 percent. That certainly helps to explain the recent Anheuser-Busch Inbev acquisition of Blue Point Brewing Company, a craft brewery from Long Island.
There are many niche beverage companies out there that offer much to consumers, investors, and bigger companies on the prowl.
Blue Point calls itself "Long Island's oldest and most award-winning brewery." Fante Coffee and Tea prospers with a dedicated following in Seattle, headquarters of the mammoth Starbucks. In the sports drink category, High Performance Beverages is moving to do the same.
For investors, there is a tremendous upside to the beverage industry becoming more like the high-tech sector is buying growth.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) had to write off nearly all of its $6.3 billion acquistion of aQuantitative, an Internet advertising firm. That will not happen in the beverage sector. Companies like Blue Point, High Performance Beverages, Fante Coffee and Tea engender legions of dedicated followers. The awards for Blue Point are proof. So are the lines out the door for Fante Coffee and Tea.
That will protect from costly mistakes like the aQuantitative fiasco for Microsoft.
The acquisition of a Blue Point, High Performance Beverage, or Fante Coffee and Tea will not bump up earnings in a meaningful way for a Starbucks, Coca-Cola, or Anheuser Busch-Inbev. What it will do it is hopefully serve as a gateway for other product lines. In that way, Coca-Cola will be doing what the high-tech industry seeks to accomplish with its buying of other firms.
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