Beverage giant Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS) is set to report fourth-quarter fiscal 2015 earnings results before the opening bell Wednesday. And if you're waiting for a better entry point in the stock, prepare for disappointment.
For the quarter that ended December, analysts on average expect Dr Pepper to earn 98 cents a share on revenue of $1.53 billion, translating to year-over-year growth of 11.3% and 1.4%, respectively. For the full year, earnings are projected to climb 12.6% to $4.01 a share, while revenue of $6.26 billion is expected to rise 2.3% year over year.
Not only is the Texas-based company seeing rising EPS estimates, Dr Pepper is also getting price target increases -- most recently a $5 price target boost from analysts at Jefferies, raising their target to $96. And last month, analyst Caroline Levy of CLSA upgraded the shares from underperform to outperform, while raising her price target from $94 to $101, implying 11% gains from current levels of around $91.
The reason for the confidence? Among beverage stocks, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more consistent performer than Dr Pepper. Thanks to beating Wall Street's earnings estimates by an average of 7 cents in its previous 10 quarters, Dr Pepper stock crushed the market last year, posting 32% gains, while the S&P 500 (SPX) index decline 0.73%.
But since reaching its 52-week high last week of $95.87, Dr Pepper shares have pulled back by around 7%, leading to year-to-date declines of 4.13%. And the company has done nothing other than execute its growth plans. It would seem, based on the recent price target hikes, some analysts agree.
While pressures from the U.S. dollar still remain as a headwind when it comes to overseas sales, that won't impact Dr Pepper as much -- not to the extent it did at Coca-Cola (KO) - Get Report and PepsiCo (PEP) - Get Report . This was a point made recently by Caroline Levy, who noted that Dr Pepper benefits by having about 90% of its sales in the U.S., where "major players have kept pricing [in the U.S.] rational."
This means Dr Pepper, unlike Pepsi or Coke, won't struggle as much with volume and revenue. By contrast, larger rivals have had to increase their prices in overseas markets, thereby passing on the dollar pressure to customers. But this strategy has caused volumes to decline. Add in potential tailwinds such as lower oil and aluminum prices, not only is Dr Pepper's 2015 profits likely underestimated, so are its 2016 projections.
So while DPS stock may not scream bargain now at 23 times earnings, which is two points higher than the S&P 500 index, Dr Pepper -- thanks to its 90% U.S. exposure -- is a solid long-term beverage play until the dollar strength tapers off.
We rate Dr Pepper/Snapple a Buy with a ratings score of A+. You can view the full analysis from the report here: DPS
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.