PepsiCo CEO: 'We Make Happiness' -- And Defense Play

PepsiCo Chief Executive Indra Nooyi says the beverage maker is safe from a downturn. Why? "We make happiness. We are comfort foods."

The CEO was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where she shared her insights on the industry and the global economy with CNBC.

Does Nooyi see a U.S. economic slowdown? "Yes and no." She noted that post-Christmas retail merchandise returns were up 25 percent -- "and that's a dangerous sign."

However, she maintained that sales of such holiday bellwether goods as consumer electronics were solid.

Nooyi offered an outlook for PepsiCo . "Good times and bad, beverage sales are good no matter what," she declared. For topline growth, "clearly" the health of emerging markets is key -- including "the Middle East, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines."

"But we have opportunity for growth all over the world," the CEO said. "We make products that bring people happiness -- for 99 cents."

Carlos Laboy, beverage analyst at Credit Suisse, is just as optimistic for PepsiCo's outlook.

He maintains "overweight" ratings for that firm and its top rival Coca-Cola -- but leans a little to Pepsi's side. Though it has a big portfolio of corn-based snacks, Laboy says it is "managaing food inflation very well," and has a "compelling footprint for international growth" in its food division. He has a year-end price target of $87 for Pepsi.