Which Beverage Stocks Could Face the Heat After Sugar Tax Impact?

Several sugar-sweetened drinks are packed with calories, which provide little to no nutritional value and can lead to chronic diseases, including obesity, heart disease, cancer, tooth decay, and type 2 diabetes. Further, higher consumption of sugary beverages has been associated with an increased risk of premature death.

According to a 2020 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, even one serving daily of a sugary soft drink is linked with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Reducing Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Nearly nine U.S. jurisdictions and over 50 countries have implemented some form of consumer tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, particularly by taxing distributors who then pass the cost along to consumers, said Author Scott Kaplan, an assistant professor of economics at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Some U.S. cities have enacted taxes on sugary drinks at checkout, typically at the rate of 1% to 2%, Kaplan added. Other cities tax those beverages by the ounce, which increases the overall price of the product.

“Maybe you spend $1 on a 12-ounce can of soda,” he said. “If it’s a 2 cent per ounce tax, that’s an additional 24 cents on your dollar.”

The analysis, published Friday in JAMA Health Forum, evaluated per-ounce tax plans by ZIP code in Boulder, Colorado; Oakland, California; Philadelphia; Seattle; and San Francisco. The study analyzed how consumers change their consumption in response to price changes.

According to this new analysis of restrictions implemented in five U.S. cities, increasing the price of sugar-sweetened sodas, coffees, teas, and energy, sports, and fruit drinks by an average of 31% lowered consumer purchases of those drinks by a third.

“For every 1% increase in price, we found a 1% decrease in purchases of these products,” Kaplan said. “The decrease in consumer purchases occurred almost immediately after the taxes were put in place and stayed that way over the next three years of the study.”

William Dermody, Vice President of Media and Public Affairs for the American Beverage Association, told CNN that such taxes are “unproductive” and hurt consumers, small business, and their employees.

“The beverage industry’s strategy of offering consumers more choices with less sugar, smaller portion sizes and clear calorie information is working – today nearly 60% of all beverages sold have zero sugar and the calories that people get from beverages has decreased to its lowest level in decades,” Dermody added.

4 Beverage Stocks Which Might Be Vulnerable in the Aftermath of Raised Sugary Drink Prices

The Coca-Cola Company (KO), a world-famous beverage company, could face the heat after the impact of the sugar tax. Evolving consumer preferences with an enhanced focus on health and wellness coupled with sustainability have pushed soda makers across the globe to de-emphasize diet branding as they sharpen their focus on zero-sugar offerings.

KO sells its products under the Coca-Cola, Diet Coke/Coca-Cola Light, Cola Zero Sugar, Fanta, Sprite, and other brands. The company is constantly transforming its portfolio, from reducing sugar in its drinks to bringing innovative new products to the market.

Consumers worldwide are also turning to sparkling water as the low-sugar, low-calorie substitute for soda and other sugary drinks. On October 26, 2023, KO announced that its 500 ml sparkling beverage bottles in Canada will be made with recycled plastic by early 2024. This marked the first time sparking drinks will be sold in bottles made from 100% recycled plastic across the country.

Coca-Cola paid a dividend of 46 cents ($0.46) to shareholders on December 15, 2023. The beverage company has raised its dividend for 61 consecutive years. Its annual dividend of $1.84 translates to a yield of 3.08% on the current share price. The company’s dividend payouts have increased at a 3.4% CAGR over the past five years.

KO’s trailing-12-month gross profit margin of 59.14% is 75.4% higher than the 33.72% industry average. Likewise, its 31.46% trailing-12-month EBITDA margin is 179.4% higher than the industry average of 11.26%. Also, the stock’s 23.92% trailing-12-month net income margin is significantly higher than the industry average of 4.90%.

For the third quarter that ended September 29, 2023, KO’s non-GAAP net operating revenues increased 7.8% year-over-year to $11.91 billion. Its non-GAAP gross profit grew 10.2% year-over-year to $7.20 billion. Its non-GAAP operating income rose 8.5% from the previous year’s quarter to $3.54 billion.

In addition, the beverage giant’s non-GAAP net income came in at $3.21 billion, or $0.74 per share, up 6.6% and 7.2% year-over-year, respectively.

“We delivered an overall solid quarter and are raising our full-year topline and bottom-line guidance in light of our year-to-date performance,” said James Quincey, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company.

As per the updated full-year 2023 guidance, KO expects to deliver non-GAAP revenue growth of 10%. The company’s non-GAAP EPS growth is expected to be 7% to 8%, versus $2.48 in 2022. It further anticipates generating a non-GAAP free cash flow of nearly $9.50 billion.

Analysts expect KO’s revenue and EPS for the fourth quarter (ended December 2023) to increase 4% and 7.6% year-over-year to $10.59 billion and $0.48, respectively. Moreover, the company surpassed consensus revenue and EPS estimates in each of the trailing four quarters.

Another beverage stock, PepsiCo, Inc. (PEP), might have to deal with the storm following the sugar tax impact. The company operates in seven segments: Frito-Lay North America; Quaker Foods North America; PepsiCo Beverages North America; Latin America; Europe; Africa, Middle East and South Asia; and Asia Pacific, Australia and New Zealand and China Region.

On November 14, PEP announced two new ambitious nutrition goals as part of PepsiCo Positive (pep+) – the company’s end-to-end strategic transformation – which aims at reducing sodium and purposefully delivering important sources of nutrition in the foods consumers are reaching for.

By 2030, PepsiCo aims for at least 75% of its global convenient food portfolio volume to meet or be below category sodium targets.

PEP’s trailing-12-month gross profit margin and EBIT margin of 54.03% and 14.59% are 60.2% and 73.1% higher than the industry averages of 33.72% and 8.43%, respectively. Also, the stock’s trailing-12-month levered FCF margin of 6.86% is 41.2% higher than the industry average of 4.86%.

PEP pays a dividend of $5.06 per share annually, translating to a 3% yield on the prevailing price. Its four-year average dividend yield is 2.72%. The company’s dividend payouts have grown at a CAGR of 7.1% over the past three years. PepsiCo has raised dividends for 51 consecutive years.

PEP’s net revenue increased 6.7% year-over-year to $23.45 billion in the third quarter that ended September 9, 2023. Its non-GAAP gross profit grew 8.8% from the year-ago value to $12.77 billion. Its non-GAAP operating profit increased 12.1% year-over-year to $4.03 billion.

Further, the company’s non-GAAP attributable net income came in at $3.11 billion and $2.25 per share, indicating increases of 13.7% and 14.2% year-over-year, respectively.

Street expects PEP’s revenue and EPS for the fourth quarter (ended December 2023) to increase 1.5% and 3.1% year-over-year to $28.42 billion and $1.72, respectively. Moreover, the company surpassed the consensus revenue and EPS estimates in each of the trailing four quarters, which is remarkable.

Third stock, Monster Beverage Corporation (MNST), known for its energy beverages and concentrates, could also be impacted by sugary drink taxes, which are resulting in a sharp drop in consumer sales.

On November 8, MNST’s Board of Directors authorized a new share repurchase program for the repurchase of up to an additional $500 million of the company’s outstanding common stock. As of November 7, nearly $282.8 million remained available for repurchase under the company’s previously authorized repurchase program.

MNST’s trailing-12-month gross profit margin of 52.58% is 55.9% higher than the 33.72% industry average. Its 28.81% trailing-12-month EBITDA margin is 155.8% higher than the industry average of 11.26%. Also, the stock’s 22.62% trailing-12-month net income margin is considerably higher than the industry average of 4.90%.

During the third quarter of 2023, the company continued the roll-out of its first flavored malt beverage alcohol product, The Beast Unleashed™, with the goal of being available in substantially all the U.S. by the end of 2023.  Further, Nasty Beast™, its new hard tea, will be launched initially in four flavors, in 12 oz. variety packs and 24 oz single-serve cans, early this year.

MNST’s net sales increased 14.3% year-over-year to $1.86 billion in the third quarter that ended September 30, 2023. Its gross profit was $983.76 million, up 18% from the prior year’s quarter. The company’s net income came in at $452.69 million, or $0.43 per common share, compared to $322.39 million, or $0.30 per common share, in the prior year’s period, respectively.

Analysts expect MNST’s revenue for the fourth quarter (ended December 2023) to grow 16.1% year-over-year to $1.76 billion. The consensus EPS estimate of $0.39 for the same period indicates an improvement of 36.5% year-over-year.

Lastly, Keurig Dr Pepper Inc. (KDP) could be vulnerable to the aftereffects of increased sugary beverage prices. From carbonated soft drinks to premium waters and everything in between, Keurig Dr Pepper provides a diverse portfolio of ready-to-drink beverages to satisfy every consumer’s need.

On December 7, KDP announced that its Board of Directors declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.215 per share, payable on January 19, 2024. The company’s annual dividend of $0.86 translates to a yield of 2.69% of the current share price.

Also, on October 26, KDP and Grupo PiSA announced that Keurig Dr Pepper will sell, distribute, and merchandise Electrolit®, a premium hydration beverage, across the U.S. as part of a long-term sales and distribution agreement.

The long-term partnership extends KDP’s portfolio into sports hydration, a key white space category for the company, and is designed to considerably expand Electrolit’s distribution and continue the brand’s accelerated growth.

KDP’s trailing-12-month gross profit margin of 53.50% is 58.6% higher than the 33.72% industry average. Likewise, the stock’s trailing-12-month EBITDA margin of 26.64% is 136.6% higher than the industry average of 11.26%. Furthermore, its 13.16% trailing-12-month net income margin is 168.8% higher than the industry average of 4.90%.

For the third quarter that ended September 30, 2023, KDP’s net sales increased 5.1% year-over-year to $3.81 billion. Its gross profit grew 11% year-over-year to $2.11 billion. Its income from operations rose 127.4% from the year-ago value to $896 million. Also, net income attributable to KDP and EPS came in at $518 million and $0.37, up 187.8% and 184.6% year-over-year, respectively.

As per its guidance for the full year 2023, KDP expects net sales growth of 5% to 6%. The company’s adjusted EPS growth is projected to be 6% to 7%.

Analysts expect KDP’s revenue and EPS for the fourth quarter (ended December 2023) to grow 3.1% and 8.6% year-over-year to $3.92 billion and $0.54, respectively. Moreover, the company surpassed consensus revenue estimates in each of the trailing four quarters.

Bottom Line

According to a recent study conducted by JAMA Health Forum, five U.S. cities that imposed taxes on sugary beverages saw prices rise and a drop in consumer sales by 33%.

With sugar-sweetened drinks considered known contributors to several health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, taxes on those drinks are implemented to lower consumption. Reduced consumer sales because of these taxes could be pretty alarming for several beverage stocks, including KO, PEP, MNST, and KDP.

The beverage industry is not just about traditional drinks anymore. With a significant surge in health awareness among consumers and the global shift toward sustainability, companies are innovating their products to meet the new demands.

Beverage firms are consistently working toward reducing sugar content in their products or are introducing zero-sugar offerings to cater to health-conscious consumers. Also, the introduction of additional healthy ingredients by different industry players is gaining traction. For example, probiotic drinks, green teas, and beverages infused with minerals and vitamins.

Like any other industry, the beverage sector has its share of opportunities and challenges. As the industry evolves, companies that fail to innovate or adapt to changing consumer preferences risk losing market share.

Given these factors, it seems prudent to wait for a better entry point in beverage stocks KO, PEP, MNST, and KDP. While the industry-wide challenges could impact these stocks in the near term, they appear in good shape to thrive in the long run.

7 Historically High Performing Thanksgiving Stocks

Amid mounting global challenges, it's essential to savor the lighter aspects of life. History shows a bullish trend during the holiday-shortened Thanksgiving week, fueled by increased consumer spending, the surge in holiday travel, and a lower cost of Thanksgiving spread.

Retailers anticipate robust sales during the festive week to turn over a profit for the year. Consequently, they offer discounts and attractive deals on overstocked items, seasonal goods, high-priced commodities, and holiday decor and gifts. Over the past decade, the retail sector has consistently surpassed the S&P 500 during this time frame.

2023 is predicted to witness a record-breaking holiday expenditure during November and December, indicating growth between 3% and 4% over 2022, snowballing the total spent from $957.3 billion to an estimated $966.6 billion. A 2023 Deloitte holiday survey suggests consumers are projected to spend an average of $1,652 during this holiday season, exceeding the pre-pandemic spending levels.

Despite witnessing a dip in October – its first in seven months – U.S. retail sales are expected to rebound. Despite economic uncertainties pressurizing customers, they prioritize holiday expenses during this year's shopping season and are looking for attractive deals and promotions to guide their expenditures.

Approximately 90% of shoppers planning to shop during the Thanksgiving break aim to visit a store to make purchases or collect an online order, with 84% planning to shop online.

Auto manufacturers were grappling amid the United Auto Workers strike. After successful negotiations with General Motors, October 30, 2023 marked the end of the strike. Kelley Blue Book reports that many car dealerships hoarding new vehicles due to fears of scarcity are currently dealing with an oversupply. The average dealership now boasts a 67-day supply of vehicles, although certain brands are still coping with undersupply. The swing in supply could generate lucrative deals for the holiday season.

The airline industry is bracing for the imminent holiday season, expecting record passenger volumes. The Transportation Security Administration projects a staggering 30 million passengers to be screened, potentially setting a new travel record. The pinnacle of this busy stretch is expected to be the Sunday following Thanksgiving, with approximately 2.9 million air travelers anticipated.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Thanksgiving flights could peak at 49,606 on the preceding Wednesday – a significant rise compared to last year's all-time high of 48,192. Many airlines are adequately prepared for severe weather conditions, having learned lessons from the previous year when they were compelled to cancel thousands of flights across the country due to adverse weather.

Thanksgiving continues to defy economic headwinds like rising inflation and dwindling consumer savings. Understanding the holiday's implications goes beyond recognizing it as a time for feasting and expressing gratitude; it is also crucial to comprehend its effects on stock market trends.

In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, the stock market traditionally experiences more substantial activity as traders recalibrate their strategies. Historically, the S&P 500 has closed the week on an optimistic note three-quarters of the time since 1961, with a median gain of 0.3%.

Furthermore, the S&P 500 has posted positive figures for the week two-thirds of the time, presenting investors with a median gain of 0.75%. Notably, amid the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, the S&P 500 reported an impressive 12% profit during Thanksgiving week.

This article will delve into the influence of Thanksgiving on various sectors like food, beverage, auto, e-commerce, and travel stocks. The seven stocks that could benefit from the holiday week are discussed below:

Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN)

E-commerce behemoth AMZN is primed to reshuffle the deck of the festive commerce landscape. With a soaring 71.3% year-to-date gain, the company's performance deserves praise. The most recent earnings report depicts an impressive 12.6% revenue surge, hitting a staggering $143.08 billion. AMZN's efforts have been focused on more than just following the market trend, but indeed establishing it.

Market murmurs reflect the awe inspired by the company. Its impressive market cap exceeding $1.48 trillion, coupled with an energetic average volume of 52.49 million, reveals the momentum of AMZN this Thanksgiving.

In a period blossoming with high consumer activity, hundreds of millions of goods are purchased from AMZN. Thus, the company’s fourth-quarter results will provide Wall Street with a comprehensive snapshot of the festive shopping season.

Analysts expect AMZN’s revenue to increase 11.2% year-over-year to $165.85 billion, while EPS is expected to be $0.76, up significantly year-over-year.

Monster Beverage Corporation (MNST)

The Corona, California-based energy drink provider MNST maintains a consistent demand for its beverages, unfazed by frequent price uplifts. The third quarter’s profit surpassed expectations, catalyzed by increased energy drinks and hard seltzers prices.

A decrease in freight and aluminum can costs from the peaks experienced during COVID-19 has inadvertently facilitated the elevation of previously pressured margins.

As of May 2022, MNST beverages have reached the list of top-selling energy drinks in America. The company's momentum will likely persist as a dynamic array of product launches is forecasted to encourage stable growth. A profound distribution network across international markets and a focus on expanding opportunities bode well for future gains.

Bolstered by robust demand trends, sound pricing strategies, and continuous product development, MNST's resilience stands firm. Net sales for the 2023 third quarter increased 14.3% to $1.86 billion. Analysts expect MNST’s revenue and EPS to increase 16.3% and 36% year-over-year to $1.76 billion and $0.39, respectively.

General Motors Company (GM)

2023 is shaping to be a benchmark year for car consumers seeking year-end deals. An unprecedented converging scenario involving elevated inventory levels, significantly increasing interest rates, and traditional holiday discounts is navigating toward big discounts.

Annually, the holiday season witnesses an eruption of optimum offers from car dealerships. Conscious that consumers are more inclined to spend during the festive season, automakers and dealerships deliver enthralling promotions, markdowns, and exclusive deals.

Consequently, after years of observing these seasonal conventions, buyers expect bountiful year-end car discounts, often holding back on purchases until December to avail of them.

For November, GM offers notable cash rebates on various 2023 models. Buyers can expect up to $4,000 off the GMC Sierra 1500 and $3,500 off the Silverado 1500. On average, a rebate of around $1,500 is currently on offer across all GM models.

This tactic could pivotally steer the Detroit-based auto giant's fortunes upward as we enter the holiday season. Amid these developments, for the fiscal quarter ending December 2023, analysts expect GM’s revenue and EPS to be $39.58 billion and $0.97, respectively.

Delta Air Lines, Inc. (DAL)

As Americans traverse the nation to unite with their families during the Thanksgiving season, the holiday is anticipated to act as a definitive marker for the aviation industry's capacity to navigate the year-end festivity period despite facing hurdles of sustained deficit of air traffic controllers.

DAL, bolstered by its strong position, is primed to capture a sizable share of this travel surge. Boasting one of the most comprehensive domestic route networks within the continental U.S., DAL is optimally set up to accommodate these customers.

Being one of the four major carriers dominating over 60% of the U.S. aviation market, DAL persistently demonstrates robust bookings – a trend spearheaded by its premium offerings, which significantly eclipsed the main cabin reservations in recent quarters. Catering to premium passengers has successfully insulated DAL from some of the financial strains budget airlines have faced recently.

DAL projects to witness between 6.2 million to 6.4 million passengers this Thanksgiving, an increase of 5.7 million passengers the airline accommodated last year and is anticipated to surpass the 6.25 million passengers transported in 2019.

DAL emerges as a promising prospect for investors weighted towards capitalizing on dwindling oil prices and the future supply chain improvement. These factors stand to positively impact profit margins within the aerospace industry down the line.

For the fiscal quarter ending December 2023, analysts expect DAL’s revenue is expected to increase 3.9% year-over-year to $13.96 billion, while EPS is expected to be $1.14.

eBay Inc. (EBAY)

With over $20 billion in market cap, EBAY, an established e-commerce heavyweight, is tirelessly striving to attract its consumers' interest and spending power. Customers seeking automotive necessities, smartwatches, and Apple products can reap the benefits of up to 75% discount by commencing their shopping endeavors with EBAY this holiday season.

EBAY constantly refines its strategies to uphold its preeminence in an industry characterized by relentless evolution and revolution. As the holiday season looms, its performance is under intense scrutiny as never before, making its sales forecast a widely watched indicator in the e-commerce landscape.

For the fiscal quarter ending December 2023, analysts expect EBAY’s revenue and EPS to be $2.51 billion and $1.02, respectively.

Conagra Brands, Inc. (CAG)

CAG, a leading North American food company, stands to gain as the anticipated cost of this year's Thanksgiving meal is set to decrease.

American Farm Bureau Federation survey has revealed that the average expense of a conventional Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people in 2023 will be roughly $61.17, or under $6.20 per individual. This reduction is largely attributed to a 5.6% year-over-year decrease in turkey prices and notable reductions in the whipping cream and cranberries prices by 22.8% and 18.3%, respectively.

The declining grocery costs could lead to a sales uptick for CAG this festive season.

Moreover, preparing a Thanksgiving dinner also encompasses multiple stressors, including shopping, planning, and the actual cooking process. However, CAG's sophisticated meal-kit delivery service can eliminate two primary pressure points.

By delivering all the necessary pre-portioned and prepared ingredients required to prepare a mouthwatering meal directly to the customer's doorstep, CAG offers a solution for consumers to enjoy a stress-free holiday season.

For the fiscal quarter ending November 2023, analysts expect CAG’s revenue and EPS to be $3.25 billion and $0.68, respectively.

United Airlines Holdings, Inc. (UAL)

UAL anticipates a record-breaking surge in travelers this Thanksgiving holiday season, projecting significant revenue growth. The holiday travel period, defined as November 17 to November 29, sees the airline expecting to serve over 5.9 million passengers. This indicates a roughly 5% rise compared to 2019 and a significant 13% increment from last year's figures.

UAL plans to operate an average of over 3,900 daily flights to manage the increased traffic, translating to approximately three departures per minute. Therefore, the airline has introduced over 550,000 seats to accommodate high passenger volumes.

UAL attributes its heightened demand to the success of its basic economy pricing option. This economical ticket option allows UAL to compete effectively against rival ultra-low-cost carriers.

UAL’s third-quarter revenue from its basic economy rose 50% annually. UAL’s CEO Scott Kirby credits this substantial gain to the company’s “improved product.”

For the fiscal quarter ending December 2023, analysts expect UAL’s revenue is expected to increase 9.5% year-over-year to $13.58 billion, while EPS is expected to be $1.69.