PepsiCo Inc.’s snacks are having to pick up more of the slack for its ailing beverages. The company posted sales and earnings that topped analysts’ estimates last quarter, helped by an uptick in volume at its Frito Lay business in North America. The snack growth helped offset continued declines at the Purchase, New York-based company’s drinks business. Still, a disappointing forecast suggests that PepsiCo has more struggles ahead.
The story is familiar: As sugar-wary consumers turn away from sweet beverages, the company has relied more on food to bolster results. The maker of Mountain Dew and Cheetos is also benefiting from cost cuts, with Chief Executive Officer Indra Nooyi pursuing at least $1 billion in annual savings.
“We delivered these results in the midst of a dynamic retail environment and rapidly shifting consumer landscape,” Nooyi said in a statement.
PepsiCo’s success with snacks is a sign that Frito Lay is innovating — examples include Organic Doritos and yogurt-based crackers — while simultaneously str-engthening its core brands. But it hasn’t been able to pull off the same trick on the beverage side. North America Beverage sales volumes were down 2 percent in the fourth quarter.
Core earnings amounted to $1.31 share in the period. Analysts estimated $1.30, on average. Revenue was $19.5 billion, compared with analysts’ prediction of $19.4 billion.
But PepsiCo’s forecast for this year was less impressive. The company sees earnings of $5.70 a share, 8 cents short of the average Wall Street estimate. The stock gained less than 1 percent to $12.50 in early trading. It had lost 6.7 percent this year.
The company also announced that it will pay bonuses of up to $1,000 for some employees following the US tax overhaul, joining companies such as Home Depot Inc. and Walt Disney Co. in doling out perks.
PepsiCo and beverage rival Coca-Cola are both aiming to solve the declining popularity of their products with new innovations.
Consumption of carbonated soft drinks fell to a 31-year low in the US in 2016, according to Beverage-Digest, a trade publication.