New-age energy drink maker Monster Beverage (MNST) - Get Monster Beverage Corporation (MNST) Report recently introduced a super soda called Mutant, ready to bring the fight to PepsiCo's MountainDew.

This sort of aggressive innovation makes Monster Beverage a market-beating growth opportunity this year.

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With a bevy of brands such as Burn, Full Throttle, Mother and NOS, Monster Beverage in just a breath of time, has built itself into an energy drink powerhouse.

The company is a dark horse in the beverage industry and promises to uncork exceptional earnings growth of more than 20% during a time when Coca-Cola,Dr Pepper Snapple and PepsiCo can, at best, manage single-digit increases.

Between 2006 and 2015, Dr Pepper Snapple barely grew its top line (32% in 10 years).

Meanwhile, Indra Nooyi-led PepsiCo, which started to move away from carbonated drinks, increased its revenue by 80%.

Coca-Cola managed a slightly better 84% growth rate.

But Monster Beverage engineered four-fold sales growth.

From natural soda, energy drinks, diet soda, drink mixers to fruit juices aimed at children, Monster Beverage has created a niche.

The stock gained wings after a first-quarter earnings beat. Analysts expect second-quarter earnings of $1.03 a share, translating to 30% year-over-year growth, backed by a 16.5% uptick in revenue to $808 million.

A quick analysis shows how Monster is a better growth play than its peers.

For instance, Dr Pepper Snapple, which is famous for brands such as 7UP, Canada Dry, Crush and Dr Pepper, for the same quarter is projected to post just 6.2% earnings growth and a forgettable 2.1% sales uptick.

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In terms of earnings, PepsiCo isn't expect to show growth, with its sales projected to drop by more than 3%. Coca-Cola is also expected to report lower sales for its latest quarter and a 6.3% earnings decline.

Over the next five years, Monster Beverage could emerge as a stronger money-making force, thanks to its earnings potential. Analysts project earnings growth of 20.9% for this period, better than most in its peer group and the industry-average.

Although being a much smaller company than Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, Monster Beverage doesn't produce as much free cash as its mammoth rivals, but its earnings outlook for Big Cola at 4% to 7% annual growth doesn't inspire much confidence. In fact, Monster Beverage is poised to accelerate its earnings growth compared with the previous five years.

The only negative for Monster Beverage is that, unlike cola majors, it doesn't pay dividends.

Monster Beverage is growing at a fast rate and needs lot of cash to grow bigger. It is also buying back shares.

On the other hand, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are saturated businesses to a large extent. This must be factored in.

Also, Monster Beverage seems better positioned to remain unscathed in the face of the sugar tax.

Purely based on its expected five-year price-earnings-growth ratio of 1.92, Monster Beverage's stock is a screaming buy for those looking at pure growth in this industry.

Coca-Cola (5.76), PepsiCo (3.38) and to an extent Dr Pepper Snapple (2.33) are by comparison, richly valued. No wonder, most of analysts are bullish on Monster Beverage's shares.

Given its growth prospects and reasonable valuation, Monster Beverage could well be bought out by a cola major. Coca-Cola owns a sizable stake already.

At a time when most companies have struggled to increase sales, margins and profits, Monster Beverage has improved both its top and bottom lines without letting margins slip. At 32%-plus, the company's margins are among the best in the industry.


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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.