Food & Beverage

Pepsi CEO: The investment bankers have been knocking on our door forever

Key Points
  • Pepsi's North American drinks business continues to lag behind its snack business.
  • Pepsi executives underlined their commitment to both businesses and intention to keep the two together.
  • Pepsi said it plans to increase marketing spending on Pepsi drinks in the US to regain momentum.
Indra Nooyi
David A. Grogan | CNBC

"The investment bankers have been knocking on our door forever," PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi told analysts Thursday when asked again this morning about the possibility of splitting its snack business from its drink business.

"They have lots of great ideas. But at the end of the day ... the ideas have got to make sense."

Pepsi spent Thursday morning peppered with analysts' questions about the continued struggles facing its core North American beverage business. Those struggles were once more underlined by the contrast of its stronger performing snack business.

Pepsi's beverage business, which is its largest and includes brands like Gatorade and its namesake cola, has been struggling to contend with increased competition from upstart brands and changing consumer tastes.

Organic sales for its drinks unit were down 2 percent, while they were up 3 percent for its Frito-Lay snack business.

Nooyi also said in the morning's call its core soda business was losing share to its main rival — though she did not mention Coca-Cola by name. Coke has been pouring money into marketing, innovation and new packaging to help promote products young and old. Its January launch of a millennial-focused revamp of its Diet Coke brand helped bring it back to positive volume growth in North America.

Company executives said they have no plans to split the two businesses, highlighting on the call, the leverage it brings with retailers.

"We've consistently...driven growth for our retailers because of the fact that we have impulse categories and strong brands, and they've been well marketed over time. So as our retailers are looking for growth, they inevitably come first to PepsiCo because of the size of the two businesses," Chief Financial Officer Hugh Johnston said on the call, according to an initial transcript from Factset.

"We just think the two of them are better together, and I have a lot of evidence to support that."

During this year's Superbowl, Pepsi made a concerted push to market its snacks and drinks businesses together, choosing as its headline a duo of Mtn Dew Ice and Doritos Blaze.

The combined business continues to give Pepsi leverage in Europe, Nooyi also noted.

To help reinvigorate its North American beverage business, Pepsi said it is putting marketing dollars back to work on Pepsi Cola, Pepsi Zero Sugar and Diet Pepsi.

Johnston said some of those dollars will be a reallocation and others will be additional spending.

"We are working through those details now," he said.

WATCH: PepsiCo CFO Hugh Johnston discusses earnings

Pepsi CFO Hugh Johnston discusses earnings
Pepsi CFO Hugh Johnston discusses earnings