CORONA, CALIF. — Monster Beverage Corp. reported significantly lower earnings for the first quarter as a result of distributor termination costs the energy drink maker paid ahead of its pending partnership with the Coca-Cola Co.
For the period ended March 31, net income was $4.4 million, or 3c per share on the common stock, down 95% from $95.3 million, or 57c per share, in the prior-year period. Excluding the negative impact of the distributor termination costs, the company said net income increased 14% to $108.5 million.
Net sales increased 17% to $626.8 million from $536.1 million the year before. Results include the positive impact of the acceleration of deferred revenue associated with the company’s prior distributors who were sent notices of termination during the quarter. Excluding the item, net sales advanced 10% to $587 million.
“We believe that the first quarter of 2015 was negatively impacted domestically by events relating to the closing of the transactions and the transitioning of our brands in the U.S. from existing distributors to The Coca-Cola Co. and its bottling partners as well as internationally due to the uncertainty inherent in the anticipated closing of the transactions,” said Rodney Sacks, chairman and chief executive officer, during a May 7 earnings call with financial analysts. “At this time, we cannot quantify what impact the transactions, including the transitions, will have on our second quarter.”
Also affecting profitability was a decrease in net sales due to unfavorable foreign currency translation, expenses related to regulatory matters and litigation, and other transaction costs related to the Coca-Cola deal.
In August 2014, Monster Beverage and Atlanta-based Coca-Cola entered into a long-term strategic partnership. Under the agreement, Coca-Cola will acquire a 16.7% stake in the Monster Beverage Co., Corona, Calif., for approximately $2.15 billion. As part of the agreement, Coca-Cola will transfer its global energy beverage business to Monster, and Monster will transfer its non-energy beverage business to Coca-Cola. The transaction is expected to close in June.
In early February, Monster Beverage sent notices of termination to third-party distributors, resulting in $206 million in termination costs during the first quarter.
“In anticipation of the closing of the transactions, to date Monster has transitioned approximately 84% of its targeted distribution rights in the U.S. to The Coca-Cola Co. and its bottling partners, and an additional 5% will be transitioned during May 2015,” Mr. Sacks said.
Once the transaction is complete, Monster will inherit the NOS, Full Throttle, Burn, Mother, Play, Power Play and Relentless energy beverage brands, and Coca-Cola will own the Hansen’s Natural Soda, Peace Tea, Hubert’s Lemonade and Hansen’s Juice Products.
“We are excited by the addition of The Coca-Cola Co. energy brands to our Monster energy portfolio, which will provide us with complementary product offerings in many countries, access to new geographies as well as access to new channels, including vending and specialty accounts,” Mr. Sacks said.
During the quarter, the company launched Monster Energy Ultra Citron and Monster Rehab Peach Tea + Energy. Monster said it also has reformulated its Muscle Monster line after experiencing a quality issue related to the texture of the products.
Monster said it plans to raise prices on its products in the coming months, after losing share to rival Red Bull, which increased prices by mid-single digits earlier in the year.Monster’s share price was down 10% in mid-morning trading on May 8 from the previous close of $143.49.