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Is Pepsi Better Than Coke?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- A lot of questions were raised when shares of Pepsico (PEP - Get Report) recently reached a new 52-week high of $87.06. Not only did this elevate Pepsi's year-to-date gains to 30%, but Pepsi investors have begun to proclaim how their stock is now running laps around Coca-Cola (KO - Get Report), whose year-to-date gains have yielded "only" 15%.

I say "only" in this manner because I don't believe in discounting double-digit gains in any market. While it is indeed impressive that Pepsi, a stock that I've long believed was undervalued, is now doing so well, I wouldn't get carried away here just yet. But I will say that I believe that Pepsi has earned the right to be in the "front-line" or on the marquee. To say it another way, I'm not ready to declare that Pepsi has passed Coca-Cola, but after looking at Pepsi's second-quarter earnings results, I don't believe that Pepsi is still playing second fiddle to its larger rival.

With obesity concerns plaguing soft-drink companies, it hasn't been a great year for the industry as most companies, including Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS), posted significantly less volumes in the second quarter. But unlike Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper Snapple, which posted revenue declines of 3% and 1% respectively, Pepsi managed to grow revenue by 2% year over year, which beat Street expectations.

Even more impressive was that when looking at Pepsi's report on an "organic basis", which focuses solely on the company's internal operations, revenue growth was closer to 4% year over year. But it wasn't all good news. "Liquid candy." a term used to describe soda and other carbonated sugar-filled beverages, is at the top of the list of those trying to bring nutritional awareness to the obesity dilemma -- a disease impacting close to 40% of Americans.

One of the ways that Coca-Cola has tried to augment its nutritional profile is by introducing a product called Coca-Cola Life, a new drink that uses a blend of sugar and Stevia, a plant-based sweetener that has no calories. But we've been down this road before with Coke Zero. This does not mean that Coca-Cola Life will suffer a quick death.

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