Talking Numbers

How real sugar could boost Pepsi

How real sugar could boost Pepsi

For years, Coca-Cola touted itself as "the real thing." Now Pepsi is firing back with, well, the real real thing—sugar.

PepsiCo confirmed to Talking Numbers that it plans to launch in June "Pepsi made with real sugar" and two "made with real sugar" limited-time offer flavors—Pepsi vanilla and Pepsi wild cherry. For the past three decades in the U.S. regular Pepsi has been made with high fructose corn syrup, though PepsiCo occasionally sells an original sugar-based retro "throwback" version.

PepsiCo could use a little bit of energy these days, at least when it comes to its carbonated soft drinks (CSDs). Sales of PepsiCo's CSDs were down 4.4 percent by volume in 2013, according to Beverage Digest. Rival Coca-Cola's CSD sales also took a 2.2 percent hit last year.

(Watch: Is Monster a fix for Coca-Cola's Diet Coke withdrawal?)

Yet PepsiCo's overall revenues grew by 1.4 percent in 2013 despite a 1.6 percent drop in beverage revenues. That's because beverages account for just less than 32 percent of the company's revenues (LINK to this). PepsiCo isn't just a soft-drink business. It's a snack business, owning such household brands as Fritos, Doritos, Lays and Cheetos, to name a few.

Nonetheless, PepsiCo's stock's returns of 5 percent in the past year significantly underperformed the benchmark S&P 500 index's 18 percent over the same time.

Steven Pytlar, chief equity strategist at Prime Executions, believes the stock will continue staying within a range between $78.60 and $86.40 per share as it has for about a year.

"We should expect this range to continue," said Pytlar. "Every time it hits the bottom of this range [at $78.60] over the past year, it's been bought. It's an expression that there is value down there. People want to own it there and sellers aren't willing to sell it any further than that."

PepsiCo's stock has bounced off its Feb. 19 lows of $77.01 and is currently near $84. Pytlar sees the potential for a couple of dollars more in the price but not much more than that for the time being.

"Not expecting any fireworks," said Pytlar. "Not really seeing any signals that suggest it could go make a new high just yet. But, maybe a little more upside in the near term to that upper bound [$86.40] that it's been in."

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Meanwhile, CNBC contributor Gina Sanchez, founder of Chantico Global, says PepsiCo's latest move to a sugar-based soft-drink represents the company's most recent drive for the different parts of the palette.

"They're trying to go back to sweet," said Sanchez. "But, in fact, the story in Pepsi has really been spicy. They've spiced up Cheetos [and] Doritos; those snacks actually have been driving sales at Pepsi."

As well, Sanchez sees PepsiCo's latest strategic alliance with Shanghai Disney Resort as a big deal as it tries to expand its emerging markets business.

"I think that they're focusing on the right things," said Sanchez. "They know where their weaknesses are. But, right now, what's really pushing that stock has been the snack business."

To see the full discussion on PepsiCo, with Pytlar on the technicals and Sanchez on the fundamentals, watch the video above.

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