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Pepsi profits beat; CFO answers Peltz on Mondelez

After PepsiCo's strong earnings report that was boosted by Frito-Lay sales, CFO Hugh Johnston took a dig at the motivations of investor Nelson Peltz's call for the company to cast off its soft drinks operations and buy Mondelez.

"You'll hear people occasionally advocate for that type of transaction," Johnston said in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday. "The thing that they really need to look at is what's their percentage holdings of Mondelez and what's their percentage holdings of PepsiCo."

According to regulatory filings, Nelson's Trian Fund Management owned 12 million shares of Pepsi and 40 million shares of Mondelez as of March 31.

Last week at the CNBC-Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha Conference, Peltz said Pepsi should buy Mondelez, the snack food company spun off from Kraft last year, and then sell Pepsi's soft drink business altogether. He claimed consumer tastes are turning against soft drinks, and the company's snacks unit is being overshadowed by its underperforming drinks unit.

(Read more: Nelson Peltz calls on Pepsi to buy Mondelez)

Johnston countered that argument: "PepsiCo as a portfolio is working so well right now. The complexity of taking on an $80 billion acquisition, and somehow trying to do all of that integration, frankly will distract the business from doing what it is that we're doing right now, which is creating a lot of value for shareholders."

Earlier Wednesday, PepsiCo said it earned $1.31 a share excluding items on revenue of $16.8 billion. Analysts had expected Pepsi to report earnings per share of $1.19 per share on $16.79 billion in revenue. Price increases for Frito-Lay snacks helped lift revenue.

(Click here to get the latest quotes for Pepsi.)

In its Americas beverage unit, volume fell 3.5 percent, with sodas in North America falling in the mid-single digits.

Last week, Coca-Cola matched earnings estimates, but fell short on revenues and worldwide unit case volume. Among the reasons, the company said the historically wet and cold spring in the U.S. put a damper on the demand for soft drinks.

At Pepsi, Johnston acknowledged that weather also affects their business, but said the company's product portfolio is what enables you to "power through those types of things."

"When it's hot out, Gatorade sells. When it's cold out, Quaker sells better. When it's a great summer, there's a lot of parties, Frito Lay tends to do really well. When it's cold and flu season, Tropicana does well."

—By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_SquawkCNBC. Wires services contributed to this report.

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