Niche beverage brands are too expensive for PepsiCo Inc. (PEP) to acquire, according to CEO Indra Nooyi.
In evaluating potential acquisition opportunities, "we have to think hard whether they're shareholder value creating, what kind of a premium do you pay for any acquisition and how do we realize the benefits of that deal enough to offset the acquisition premium," she said on a call with analysts. "And believe me, the stuff we've looked at so far, we don't see a clear path to that."
Other companies are willing to pay up for the brands as packaged food and traditional soft drink sales stall, if for no other reason than to keep the growth out of their competitors' hands.
Earlier this year, for instance, Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. (DPS) paid $1.7 billion, or 4 times net sales, for fast-growing beverage maker Bai Brands LLC. CFO Martin Ellen said that Bai's Ebitda was about $79 million, implying that it sold for about 21.5 times Ebitda.
These rich multiples aren't just restricted to drinks. On Friday, Kellogg Co. (K) forked over $600 million for the maker of Rxbar protein bars. The cereal giant said that the effective purchase price was $400 million including tax benefits, or 12 to 14 times the company's projected 2018 Ebitda.
Here's a look at some of the other richly valued food and beverage companies that may be acquired soon, for a steep price.
National Beverage Corp. (FIZZ) , the maker of LaCroix sparkling water, trades at about 25.7 times its Ebitda, far above the sector average of 13.3. Dr Pepper Snapple, for instance, clocks in at 13.5 times Ebitda, and PepsiCo trades at 14.1. Shares are up 140% in the past year and 113.8% year to date as LaCroix's popularity has exploded, but CEO Nick Caporella controls the company, leaving a potential sale up to him. According to Credit Suisse analyst Laurent Grandet, there's just a 20% chance that Pepsi or Coca-Cola Co. (KO) will buy the brand.
CNBC reported May 31 that PepsiCo was in talks to acquire the world's largest coconut-water brand for about $1 billion, which CEO Michael Kirban told Bloomberg was its sales target for 2017. Vita Coco parent All Market Inc. sold a 25% stake in 2014 for $166 million, or 3.33 times its revenue.
Dr Pepper Snapple paid $20 million for an 11.7% stake in the Bodyarmor sports drink brand, which is also backed by Kobe Bryant. The investment valued the company at $170 million, or 5.7 times the prior year's sales. In 2017, the company is aiming for $250 million to $300 million in sales, compared to $130 million in 2016, founder Mike Repole told Fox.
Coca-Cola also makes small investments in niche brands. In 2015, it joined Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) in backing cold-pressed juice company Suja. BevNet reported that Coca-Cola's investment was $90 million, in return for a 30% stake. The investment valued Suja at $300 million, or about 7 times its sales of $42 million in 2015.