Will cold drinks save a once-hot stock?
Keurig Green Mountain is betting they will help jumpstart growth as it officially launches its Kold machine, which makes single-serve cold beverages with the push of a button. But not everyone is buying it.
Bill Chappell, an analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, said the "jury is out and is really skeptical" about Kold becoming "a meaningful driver of growth" for at least a couple years.
"I think the Street has largely written off Kold. I think there are low expectations for Kold," Chappell said in a phone interview.
Keurig is already a powerhouse in the single-serve coffee market, where it has helped change the way Americans get their morning caffeine jolt by promising convenience without the mess. In fact, sales of standard coffee machines have been shrinking since 2012 while pod coffee brewers continue to steal share, according to Euromonitor data.
Unlike coffee though, it takes just as much effort to reach into the fridge to grab a soft drink. The key selling point for Kold is variety without taking up the fridge space multiple 12-packs would require.
Tara Murphy, senior vice president and general manager, Keurig Kold Systems, said the system opens it up to additional times of day and customers.
"Every home in the U.S. drinks cold beverages so it's just a much bigger space to play," Murphy said in an nterview.
Kold's convenience comes with a price, though: the drinkmaker has a $369.99 suggested retail price, while the pods will set customers back another $4.49 to $4.99 for each box of four. Each pod makes a single 8-ounce serving.
Year to date, Keurig's stock has cracked under skepticism about Kold and concerns about flagging growth of its flagship hot beverage products.
Shares have dropped about 60 percent year to date, making it one of the worst performers of the S&P 500.
Wall Street remains cautious on the stock, placing an average "hold" rating on it.
Near term, Phil Terpolilli, senior equity analyst at Wedbush, does not expect a huge impact from Kold but said it would be a drag on profitability.
"We're modestly negative on the overall platform," he said during a phone interview.
The machine's high price tag is a concern, coupled with the expense of the pods, which are pricier than buying soda at the grocery store.
"You're asking a lot of people out of the gate, even hard-core soda drinkers," he said.