What’s Driving Our $122 Price For PepsiCo?

by Trefis Team
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PepsiCo‘s (NYSE:PEP) stock fell from close to $120 at the start of the year to $95 in May, despite exceeding consensus expectations on revenue and earnings. It has rebounded since then to $115, but the shares are still down roughly 4% year-to-date. Softness in the company’s North American Beverage (NAB) segment has not hampered its results much, as its other segments have been able to deliver strong growth to offset the weakness. We expect these trends to continue in the near term, with Frito-Lay being a key growth driver for the company. We have a $122 price estimate for PepsiCo, which is higher than the current market price. The charts have been made using our new, interactive platform. If you don’t agree with our analysis, you can modify the different driver assumptions by clicking here for our interactive dashboard on Our Outlook For PepsiCo In FY 2019, to gauge their impact on the revenue, earnings, and price per share metrics.

We have based our price estimate on expected revenues of $66.9 billion in FY 2019, net income margin of 13.1%, and a P/E multiple of 20. Our revenue and margin growth forecasts are based on the following factors:

1. Lower Tax Rate: As a result of the reduction in the corporate tax rate in the U.S., from 35% to 21%, PepsiCo believes its effective tax rate for FY 2018 will be in the low 20s. This is a significant drop from the 48.9% tax rate recorded in FY 2017. We have forecast the company’s tax rate to be 23.1% and 22.7% in FY 2018 and FY 2019, respectively. This factor will help drive the net income margin improvement.

2. Increased Marketing Spend For Core Beverages: While PepsiCo has moderately increased media spend over the past three years, its biggest competitor – Coca-Cola – has done so by a substantial margin. While this has benefited the latter, PepsiCo has struggled as a result. In response to this, the company has allocated increased media to trademark Pepsi. It has also launched a new “Pepsi Generations” campaign, with PepsiCo improving sales and market share as an outcome. On the other hand, this step has pressured the operating margins of the company, offsetting any benefit received from the productivity initiatives implemented by the company to induce cost savings. Moreover, the company faced higher transportation and commodity costs, which were other factors that resulted in the operating profit falling 16% for the segment in the second quarter. While gross margins are expected to remain pressured in FY 2018, we expect a pickup from next year.

3. Focus On Healthy Snacks: In order to meet the evolving needs of customers globally, PepsiCo is shifting its portfolio to a wider range termed as “Everyday Nutrition Products.” The company now derives approximately 45% of its revenues from these “Guilt Free Products” indicating that it has transformed its portfolio toward healthier products according to the new customer preferences. These products include “diet and other beverages that contain 70 calories or less from added sugar per 12-ounce serving and snacks with low levels of sodium and saturated fat” as well as “everyday nutrition products” – products with nutrients like grains, fruits and vegetables, protein, unsweetened tea, and water. Frito-Lay is also pushing toward a premiumization of its products to fuel its revenue and margin growth. Consumers have been moving away from eating unhealthy products, which has put pressure on the volumes. Hence, by concentrating on premium brands, there can be a shift from low-priced, high-volume products to the high-priced, low-volume range, which may result in top and bottom line growth.

4. Acquisition Of Brands Such As Bare Foods: The acquisition of Bare Foods fits perfectly with PepsiCo’s plan of focusing on its ‘Better For You’ portfolio. Moreover, it also provides the company with a line of products that are already doing well. Consequently, PepsiCo would not have to undertake the considerable investment needed to build the products from scratch, as well as the marketing dollars needed to establish a customer base. On the other hand, for Bare Foods, it could not have been a better offer. The brand gets to operate independently, while having access to PepsiCo’s immense distribution network, and vast coffers needed to increase production and the marketing of its products.

5. Growth Of Healthier Beverages: With the growth of its beverage business slowing down, as a result of sluggish soda sales, the healthy products segment will be a focus for the company in the future to drive its sales. PepsiCo’s tea portfolio, with brands including Lipton and Pure Leaf, has grown retail sales in the range of mid-single digits to as high as 21% over the past 17 quarters. In enhanced water, both LIFWTR and the newly launched Bubly have grown nicely. KeVita, PepsiCo’s line of premium organic live probiotic beverages, grew retail sales 50% in Q1, following 66% growth for the full year 2017, and continued its strong performance in Q2. The growth of these brands is highly important for the company, as significant growth here may help to offset some of the weakness in the core portfolio.

6. Purchase Of SodaStream: PepsiCo recently announced the $3.2 billion acquisition of SodaStream, the number one sparkling water brand by volume in the world, and the leading manufacturer and distributor of Sparkling Water Makers. The shift away from carbonated drinks and diet sodas has precipitated the growth of the sparkling water category. Given that nationally, sparkling water has been growing at a much higher rate than the overall bottled water segment, 38% growth last year, compared to 7% for the whole category, it is definitely a significant market for PepsiCo to ply its trade. This tremendous growth is expected to continue in the future as well, as the soda sales contract, and consumers look toward sparkling water to satisfy their cravings for carbonation. Moreover, the introduction of new and innovative flavors, as well as its image as a healthy alternative to carbonated drinks should also help to drive the sales. For PepsiCo, SodaStream can be expected to form only a small portion of the North American Beverage revenues, once the acquisition is complete, given the fact that the latter has a very small presence in the U.S. This will result in a lower level of cannibalization for PepsiCo given the similar products offered by both companies. Looking ahead, SodaStream will be able to leverage PepsiCo’s massive distribution network to expand its presence in North America.

7. Importance Of Frito-Lay: While Frito-Lay North America (FLNA) contributes to roughly a quarter of the company’s revenues, its share of the total operating profit is about 42%. We expect the strong growth rates of FLNA to continue in the future, boosted by the segment’s foray into new products and healthy snacks. For example, due to the success of Lay’s Poppables, launched in 2017, FLNA extended the Poppables product line-up with the introduction of new Lay’s Poppables Honey Barbecue and a 12-count multipack of Poppables Sea Salt. The company has also extended the Simply sub-line (which offers natural and organic versions of popular snack brands) by introducing new package varieties with the Simply variety pack and a three-flavor lineup of single-serve packages for Simply Lay’s, Cheetos, and Doritos offerings. To address consumers’ desire for greater flavor and product variety in single-serve multi-packs, PepsiCo launched a 20-count Family Fun mix that includes a variety of products, including Lay’s, Cheetos, and Ruffles, with an expanded mix of flavors, which helped drive 10% net revenue growth in the overall variety pack business. The company also launched Ruffles Mozzarella ‘n Marinara and Doritos Blaze, which helped to improve Ruffles and Doritos sales by 10% and 6%, respectively.

8. Focus On The E-Commerce Space: With online grocery shopping rising at a phenomenal pace, PepsiCo is placing a big bet on the online space. The company is making an increasing effort to address the growth opportunities across eGrocery, pureplay, urban grocery delivery, direct-to-business, and direct-to-consumer models. Keeping this in mind, the cola giant has developed a team of roughly 200 e-commerce professionals which has been tasked with capturing growth in this rapidly growing segment.  PepsiCo’s efforts seem to be working well, as the company has witnessed tremendous growth through its e-commerce channels, with its digital business garnering approximately $1 billion in annualized retail sales.

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