U.S. Markets open in 50 mins

Monster Beverage (MNST) Q4 2018 Earnings Conference Call Transcript

Motley Fool Transcribing, The Motley Fool
Logo of jester cap with thought bubble with words 'Fool Transcripts' below it

Image source: The Motley Fool.

Monster Beverage (NASDAQ: MNST)
Q4 2018 Earnings Conference Call
Feb. 27, 2019 5:00 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for your patience. You've joined Monster Beverage Corporation's 2018 fourth-quarter and full-year financial results conference call. [Operator instructions] As a reminder, this conference may be recorded. I would now like to turn the call over to your host, Chairman and CEO Mr.

Rodney Sacks. Sir, you may begin.

Rodney Sacks -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Hi, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for attending this call. I'm Rodney Sacks. Hilton Schlosberg, our vice chairman and president, is with me today; as is Tom Kelly, our executive vice president of finance.

Before we begin, I'd like to remind listeners that certain statements made during this call may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and are based on currently available information regarding the expectations of management with respect to revenues, profitability, future business, future events, financial performance and trends. Management cautions that these statements are based on our current knowledge and expectations and are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, many of which are outside the control of the company, that may cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements made during this call. Please refer to our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our most recent annual report on Form 10-K filed on March 1, 2018, and our Form 10-Q filed on November 8, 2018, including the sections contained therein entitled risk factors and forward-looking statements, for a discussion on specific risks and uncertainties that may affect our performance. The company assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

More From The Motley Fool

An explanation of the non-GAAP measure of gross sales and certain expenditures, which may be mentioned during this call -- the course of this call, is provided in the notes and designated with asterisks in the condensed consolidated statements of income and other information attached to the earnings release dated February 27, 2019. A copy of this information is also available on our website at monsterbevcorp.com, in the financial information section. Consumer preference beverage -- consumer beverage preferences and types are continuing to evolve, and we are endeavoring to address them through our ongoing innovation of new products. Net sales for the 2018 fourth quarter were negatively impacted by 8.5 million due to the adoption of Accounting Standards Codification 606.

Under ASC 606, commissions paid to The Coca-Cola Company based on our sales to certain of the company's customers, which The Coca-Cola Company accounts for under the equity method or consolidates, are now included as a reduction to net sales, whereas prior to January 1, 2018, commissions based on sales to those customers which Coca-Cola accounts for under the equity method, were included in operating expenses. Net and gross sales for the three months ended December 31, 2018, were negatively impacted by advance purchases made by our customers in the third quarter of 2018 due to a preannounced price increase effective November 1, 2018, on certain of our Monster Energy brand energy drinks in 2018, which affected our fourth quarter. The company estimates such impact to net and gross sales was approximately 16 and 18 million, respectively. In the fourth quarter of 2018, net sales were 924.2 million, up 14.1% from 810.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Without the adoption of ASC 606, the percentage increase in net sales would have been 15.1%. Net sales in the fourth quarter were negatively impacted by approximately 14.4 million of foreign currency movements. The company recorded fourth-quarter gross sales of 1.06 billion, up 13.7% from 934.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. Gross sales in the fourth quarter were negatively impacted by approximately16.2 million of foreign currency movements.

Gross profit as a percentage of net sales for the 2018 fourth quarter was 59.7%, compared to 62.1% in the 2017 fourth quarter. The gross profit percentage, as adjusted for ASC 606, would have been 60.1% for the quarter. The decrease in gross profit as a percentage of net sales was primarily attributable to increases in input -- certain input costs such as aluminum cans, freight in and other input costs; geographical sales mix as a result of our international sales increasing as a percentage of total net sales, our foreign operations generally have lower gross margins; domestic product sales mix; and the 8.5 million of commissions accounted for as a reduction to net sales due to the adoption of ASC 606. The decrease in gross profit as a percentage of net sales was partially offset by increases in domestic sales prices as well as the decrease in promotional allowances as a percentage of gross sales.

Distribution costs as a percentage of net sales were 3.7% for the 2018 fourth quarter as compared to 3.6% in the 2017 fourth quarter. Selling expenses as a percentage of net sales were 11.3% for the 2018 fourth quarter as compared to 13.6% in the same quarter in 2017. General and administrative costs as a percentage of net sales were 11.5% for the 2018 fourth quarter as compared to 11.9% in the same quarter in 2017. In the quarter, payroll expenses as a percentage of net sales were 7.2%, compared to 7.7% in the same period in 2017.

Payroll costs increased $4.9 million in dollars primarily due to headcount growth, both domestically and internationally. Stock-based compensation and noncash item was 14.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to $13 million in the same quarter in 2017. Operating income was adversely affected by losses in China of $3.1 million in the quarter. Our effective tax rate decreased from 24.8% in the 2017 fourth quarter to 23.1% in the 2018 fourth quarter.

The decrease in the effective tax rate was primarily due to the reduction in the U.S. federal statutory tax rate as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or the Tax Reform Act, signed into law on December 22, 2017, as well as a reduction in certain foreign income that is subject to U.S. taxation. In addition, the comparative 2017 fourth-quarter effective tax rate included a onetime provisional charge related to the revaluation of the company's deferred tax assets at December 31, 2017, and the onetime charge for the deemed mandatory repatriation of post-1986 earnings and profits as a result of the Tax Reform Act.

The decrease in the provision for income taxes was also partially offset by a decrease in the stock-based compensation tax deduction. Net income was 239.1 million in the 2018 fourth quarter, compared to net income of 201.3 million in the 2017 fourth quarter, an increase of 18.8%. The weighted average number of diluted shares outstanding decreased from 575 million for the fourth quarter of 2017 to 556.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2018 as a result of share repurchases, which I will cover later in this call. Diluted earnings per share for the 2018 fourth quarter increased 22.7% to $0.43 from $0.55 in the fourth quarter of 2017.

We continue to make good progress in the implementation of our strategic alignment with Coca-Cola Bottlers globally. We are also making good progress in the U.S. in nontraditional channels, including food service accounts, e-commerce and home improvement stores. In the second quarter of 2019, Monster Energy will be launched in Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia.

We are planning further international launches later this year in EMEA. We launched Predator, our strategically preferred affordable energy brand in South Africa, in the fourth quarter and plan to launch in certain surrounding countries in the first quarter of 2019. We are also planning launches of Predator in selected additional markets in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa throughout 2019. During the fourth quarter of 2018, we launched Monster in Ecuador.

We are now on track to launch Monster in Bolivia in the first quarter of 2019. We are planning to launch Monster in the Dominican Republic and Paraguay in the second quarter of 2019. In China, we had a limited launch of Monster Ultra White in the fourth quarter to further appeal to Monster's primary target of young affluent consumers. Ultra's innovation has facilitated expanded shelf space in the targeted top 40 cities and key accounts.

We are continuing to expand the rollout of Monster all through this quarter and are planning further innovation through the launch of Mango Loco in China during the second quarter of 2019. We continued the rollout of Monster across India with expansion to top 50 cities. Monster is now selling in approximately 90% of the country with marketing initiatives now in full swing. I wanted to take a moment to address an issue previously covered on our last call, and that's our investor presentation in New York in January concerning our arbitration with The Coca-Cola Company.

As we reported, our various agreements with The Coca-Cola Company restrict The Coca-Cola Company from competing in the energy drink category with certain exceptions. Coca-Cola has developed three energy products that it believes it may market under an exception relating to The Coca-Cola brand. We believe that the exception does not apply to those energy products. As a result, we have a disagreement with Coca-Cola over the interpretation of that exception.

By mutual agreement, to obtain clarification, the issue was submitted to arbitration at the end of October 2018, and that process is under way with the parties participating cooperatively. Coca-Cola had indicated that it had suspended the proposed launch of its proposed energy product until April 2019. We cannot predict with certainty when the result of the arbitration will be published but reasonably expect a resolution of the issue in the second quarter of 2019. We reiterate that whatever the outcome of the arbitration, we will continue to cooperate and work together as partners.According to the Nielsen reports for the 13 weeks through January 26, 2019, all outlets combined, namely convenience, grocery, drug, mass merchandisers, sales in dollars in the energy drink category, including energy shots, increased by 11.3% versus the same period a year ago.

Sales of Monster grew 11.1% in the 13-week period, while sales of NOS increased 5.6%, and sales of Full Throttle increased 2.8%. Sales of Red Bull increased 9.4%. Sales of Rockstar decreased by 3.8%. Sales of 5-Hour decreased 2.1%, and sales of Amp decreased 31%.

According to Nielsen, for the four weeks ended January 26, 2019, sales in the convenience and gas channel, including energy shots, in dollars, increased 13% over the same period the previous year. Sales of Monster increased by 10.8% over the same period the previous year, while NOS was up 3.6%, and Full Throttle was up 4.9%. Sales of Red Bull were up 11.7%. Rockstar was down 4.8%.

5-Hour was down 0.2%, and Amp was down 33.6%. According to Nielsen, for the four weeks ended January 26, 2019, Monster's market share in the energy drink category in the convenience and gas channel, including energy shots, in dollars, decreased by 0.7 points over the same period the previous year to 37.1%. NOS' share declined 0.4 share point to 3.9%, and Full Throttle's share declined 0.1 points to 0.9%. Red Bull's share decreased 0.4 points to 33.7%.

Rockstar's share was down 1.2 points to 6.4%. 5-Hour's share was lower by 0.8 points at 6.2%. Amp's share decreased 0.4 points to 0.6% and VPX Bang's share is 4.9%, up 4.3 share points. According to Nielsen, in the four weeks ended January 26, 2019, sales of coffee plus energy drinks, which now includes Caffe Monster and Espresso Monster, in dollars, in the convenience and gas channel increased 21% over the same period the previous year.

Sales of our Java Monster alone were 15.5% higher than in the same period the previous year. Sales of our coffee plus energy drinks were 29.2% higher, while our sales of Starbucks Double Shot Energy were 11.7% higher. Our company's share of the coffee plus energy category, which includes Java Monster, Caffe Monster, Espresso Monster, Starbucks Double Shot and Rockstar Roasted for the four weeks ended January 26, 2019, was 58%, up 3.7 points. Java Monster's share on its own for the four weeks ended January 26, 2019, was 50.1%, down 2.4 points, while Starbucks Double Shot Energy share was 41.9%, down 3.5 points.

According to Nielsen, in the convenience and gas channel in Canada for the 12 weeks ended February 2, 2019, the Energy Drink category increased 7% in dollars. Monster's sales increased 13% versus a year ago. Monster's market share increased 2.1 share points to 34.5%. NOS' sales increased 1%, and its market share decreased 0.1 share points to 3%.

Full Throttle's sales decreased 1%, and its market share decreased 0.1 points to 1.5%. Red Bull's sales increased 7%, and its market share increased 0.4 points to 36.2%. Rockstar's sales decreased 6%, and its market share decreased 2.6 points to 15.4%. According to Nielsen, for all outlets combined in Mexico, the energy drink category grew 12.9% during the month of January 2019.

Monster's sales increased 8.3%. Our market share in value decreased 1.3 points to 30.5% against the comparable period the previous year. Sales of Burn were down 18.6%. Burn's market share decreased 0.5 points to 1.2%.

Red Bull's sales decreased 5%, and its market share decreased by 1.9 points to 9.9%. Vive 100's sales increased 10.1%, and its market share decreased 0.8 points to 31.1%. Vault's sales increased 59.9%, and its market share increased 4.1 share points to 14%, while Boost's market share decreased 0.2 points to 11.6%. The Nielsen statistics for Mexico cover single months, which is a short period that may often be materially influenced positively and/or negatively by sales in the OXXO convenience chain, which dominates the market.

Sales in the OXXO convenience chain, in turn, can be materially influenced by promotions that may be undertaken in that chain by one or more energy drink brands during a particular month. Consequently, such activities could have a significant impact on the monthly Nielsen statistics for Mexico. I would like to point out that the Nielsen numbers in EMEA should only be used as a guide because the channels read by Nielsen in EMEA vary from country to country. According to Nielsen in the 13-week period ending January 2019, Monster's retail market share in value as compared to the same period the previous year grew from 11% to 12.7% in Belgium, from 24.3% to 24.8% in France, from 18.8% to 20.3% in Great Britain, from 7.1% to 7.3% in the Netherlands and from 28.9% to 30.3% in Spain.

According to Nielsen, in the 13-week period ending December 2018, Monster's retail market share in value as compared to the same period the previous year grew from 10.3% to 13.7% in the Czech Republic, from 15.8% to 17.5% in Germany, from 16.6% to 18.6% in Ireland, from 13.8% to 18.1% in Italy, from 15.8% to 17.3% in Norway, from 8.3% to 10.9% in Poland, from 15.6% to 15.8% in South Africa and from 11.1% to 14.2% in Sweden. For the 13-week period ended December 2018, Monster's retail market share in value decreased from 34% to 33.6% in Greece, although value sales increased in the same comparative period. According to Nielsen, for the month of January 2019 in Chile, Monster's retail market share in value increased from 33.5% to 34.8%, compared to the same period the previous year. According to Nielsen, in Brazil, Monster's retail market share for the month of December 2018 increased from 15.2% to 18.9% as compared to the same period the previous year.

We launched Monster Energy in Argentina in mid-February 2018. According to Nielsen, Monster achieved a 16.9% market share in value as of December 2018. According to IRI in Australia, Monster's market share in value for the last four weeks ending January 27, 2019, increased from 6.9% to 7.6% as compared to the same period the previous year. Mother's market share in value decreased from 14.6% to 13.8% during the same period.

According to IRI in New Zealand, Monster's market share in value for the last four weeks ending February 3, 2019, increased from 6.1% to 8.4% as compared to the same period the previous year. Lift Plus market share in value decreased from 10.3% to 8.7%, and Mother's market share in value decreased from 6.7% to 6.5%. According to Nielsen in South Korea, Monster's market share in value in all outlets combined grew from 25.2% in the 2017 fourth quarter to 37.7% in the fourth quarter of 2018. According to Intage, Monster's market share in value in the convenience store channel in Japan grew from 44.4% in the 2017 fourth quarter to 46.7% in the fourth quarter of 2018.

We again point out that certain market statistics that cover single months may often be materially influenced, positively and/or negatively, by promotions or other trading factors during those months. Net sales for the Monster energy drinks segment for the fourth quarter of 2018 increased 15.9% from 736.1 million to 853.3 million from the comparable period in 2017. Net sales for the Monster energy drinks segment in the 2018 fourth quarter were negatively impacted by 3.2 million due to the adoption of ASC 606. Without the adoption of ASC 606, the percentage increase in net sales for the Monster energy drinks segment would have been 16.4%.

Net sales for the Monster energy drinks segment in the fourth quarter of 2018 were negatively impacted by approximately 12.4 million of foreign currency movements. Net sales for the strategic brands segment was $65.8 million for the fourth quarter as compared to $69.6 million in the same quarter in 2017. Net sales for the strategic brands segment for the fourth quarter of 2018 were negatively impacted by $5.3 million due to the adoption of ASC 606. Without the adoption of ASC 606, the percentage increase in sales for the strategic brands segment would have been 2.3%.

Net sales for the company's strategic brands segment in the fourth quarter of 2018 were negatively impacted by approximately $2 million of foreign currency movements in the quarter. Net sales for the other segment, which includes third-party sales made by AFF, were 5.1 million in the fourth quarter as compared to 4.7 million in the same quarter in 2017. Net sales to customers outside the U.S. were 274.3 million in the 2018 fourth quarter, compared to 210.4 million in the corresponding quarter in 2017.

Foreign currency exchange rates had the effect of decreasing net sales in U.S. dollars by approximately 14.4 million. Included in reported geographic sales are our sales to the company's military customers, which are delivered in the U.S. and transshipped to the military and their customers overseas.

In EMEA, we had another challenging quarter with supply chain and production issues, although less than in the 2018 third quarter, which not only affected our sales but also resulted in a number of out-of-stocks and cancellations of orders from the retail trade in certain countries in EMEA. As mentioned earlier, our Nielsen growth rates and market share continues to be strong in the territory. We are managing throughout the supply chain and production issues. Certain of our co-packers that contributed in part to these issues are back on track.

Furthermore, we have secured and are securing additional production capacity. In EMEA, net sales in the fourth quarter increased 18.9% in dollars and increased 23.2% in local currencies over the same period in 2017. Without the adoption of ASC 606, the percentage increase in net sales would have been 23.8% in dollars and 28.1% in local currencies. Gross profit in this region as a percentage of net sales for the quarter was 42.1%, compared to 47.5% in the same quarter in 2017.

Without the adoption of ASC 606, gross profit as a percentage of net sales would have been 44.4% for the fourth quarter. Gross profit in the region was also impacted by a higher percentage of Monster sales relative to sales of concentrates of our strategic brands in the region. We are pleased with the rollout of additional SKUs in the Ultra range in EMEA markets. Various SKUs in the Ultra line are now sold in 38 EMEA markets.

We are also pleased that Monster continues to perform well and gained market share in Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Spain and Sweden. In Asia Pacific, net sales in the fourth quarter increased 68.4% in dollars and 73.5% in local currencies over the same period in 2017. Without the adoption of ASC 606, the percentage increase in net sales would have been 70% in dollars and 75.1% in local currencies. Gross profit in this region as a percentage of net sales was 46.1%.

This is 32.4% over the same period in 2017. Without the adoption of ASC 606, gross profit as a percentage of net sales would have been 46.6%. In Japan, net sales in the quarter increased 55.1% in dollars and 55.8% in local currency. In South Korea, net sales increased 141.6% in dollars and 142.6% in local currency as compared to the same quarter in 2017.

In Oceania, which includes Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea and Guam, net sales increased 12.1% in dollars and 21.7% in local currency as compared to the same quarter in 2017. In Latin America, including Mexico and the Caribbean, net sales in the fourth quarter increased 43.9% in dollars and 64.7% in local currencies over the same period in 2017. Without the adoption of ASC 606, the percentage increase in net sales would have been 45.3% in dollars and 66.1% in local currencies. Gross profit in this region as a percentage of net sales was 44.7% versus 47.1% over the same period in 2017.

Without the adoption of ASC 606, gross profit as a percentage of net sales would have been 45.3%. Net sales in Brazil in the quarter increased by 30.3% in dollars and 58.7% in local currency. Net sales in Chile increased 48.6% in dollars and 60.9% in local currency in the quarter. Turning to the balance sheet.

Cash and cash equivalents amounted to 637.5 million at December 31, 2018, compared to 528.6 million at December 31, 2017. Short-term investments were 320.7 million at December 31, 2018, compared to 672.9 million at December 31, 2017. Net accounts receivable increased to $484.6 million at December 31, 2018, from 449.5 million at December 31, 2017. Days outstanding for accounts receivable were 41.4 days at December 31, 2018, compared to 43.8 days at December 31, 2017.

Inventories increased to 277.7 million from 255.7 million at December 31, 2017. Average days of inventory were 67.2 days at December 31, 2018, compared to 75 days at December 31, 2017. In the fourth quarter of 2018, we launched Java Swiss Chocolate, a line extension of our Java Monster family, as an exclusive launch with certain customers and are now in the process of a national launch of Java Swiss Chocolate. Initial results have been positive.

We're currently in the process of launching Ultra Paradise, a line extension in our Ultra family, as well as Hydro Manic Melon and Hydro Mean Green in 25.4-ounce PET bottles. In addition, we are currently launching NOS Sonic Sour, a new flavor in the NOS family, as well as rebranding NOS Rowdy Punch to NOS Power Punch. In March, we are planning to launch our Reign total body fuel in six flavors. We are also planning on launching two flavors in our Dragon Tea line in March, namely Green Tea and Yerba Mate.

We have repositioned our Monster Rehab White Dragon Tea to be included in the new Monster Dragon Tea line as White Tea. During January 2019, in Canada, we launched two additional line extensions of Monster Hydro, namely Purple Passion and Zero Sugar, as well as Monster White Dragon Tea. In March of 2019, we are planning on launching three flavors of our Caffe Monster line in the 13.7-ounce resealable glass package in Canada. In Mexico, during the fourth quarter of 2018, we launched our Lewis Hamilton energy drink.

Initial results have been positive. We are planning on launching Monster Mango Loco this quarter. In the fourth quarter of 2018, we launched Monster Mango Loco in Belgium, Ireland and South Africa. Monster Mango Loco will be widely available across Europe in the first half of 2019.

Monster Mega was launched in the Adriatics. We also launched Espresso Monster and Espresso Monster Vanilla in selected accounts in Great Britain. Espresso Monster has also just launched in Germany this month. We are planning to launch our Espresso Monster line across Western Europe in the first half of 2019.

In the fourth quarter of 2018, we launched Burn Lemonade in Russia, BPM Orange Zero in Ireland, Power Play Mango in South Africa and Burn Mango in the Baltics. In the fourth quarter of 2018, we executed a limited launch of Monster Energy Pipeline Punch with the convenience and gas retailer in Australia. In January of 2019, we distributed Monster Energy Pipeline Punch nationally. In the fourth quarter of 2018 in New Zealand, we launched Pipeline Punch and Mango Loco marketwide.

We have experienced manufacturing issues related to our Mango Loco product in Australia. We are anticipating that we will be able to resolve these issues and resume product supply to both Australia and New Zealand in the second quarter and relaunch at retail in the third quarter of 2019. As I mentioned earlier, we implemented a price increase of approximately 4% on our Monster Energy portfolio to our U.S. customers effective November 1, 2018.

We are pleased with the initial results of the implementation of this price increase. Promotional expenses as a percentage of gross sales decreased in the quarter. We increased in the prices of our concentrate for NOS and Full Throttle effective January 1, 2019, by approximately 1.5%. We also implemented a price increase of approximately 3% to our Canadian customers effective February 1, 2019, for Monster Energy, NOS and Full Throttle lines.

We estimate the January 2019 gross sales to be approximately 2.7% higher than January 2018. On a foreign currency adjusted basis, January 2019 gross sales would have been approximately 4.6% higher in comparable January 2018 gross sales. In this regard, we note, and as explained on our fourth-quarter 2017 call, that the increase in gross sales of 27.9% in January 2018 as compared to January 2017 FOREX adjusted to 25.1% was in part due to the increase in January 2018 sales following inventory reductions that occurred in the fourth quarter of 2017 by certain of our international distributors; b, initial shipments of Caffe Monster and Muscle Monster, which we launched in January 2018; and c, more of innovation in 2017 had a more substantial impact on January 2018 sales than innovation in 2018 has had on our January 2019 sales. No new innovation was launched by us in the U.S.

in January 2019. This year, our innovation in the U.S., namely Monster Ultra Paradise and Java Monster Swiss Chocolate, is being launched nationally this week. And Reign and two additional varieties of Monster Dragon Tea will be launched in March. Thus, the increase in January 2019 sales over January 2018 sales mentioned above should be evaluated in the context of the above factors that impacted January 2018 sales.

In this regard, we caution again that sales over a short period are often disproportionately impacted by various factors such as, for example, selling days, days of the week in which holidays fall, timing of new product launches and the timing of price increases and promotions in retail stores, distributor incentives, as well as shifts in the timing of production in some instances where our bottlers are responsible for production and unilaterally determine their production schedules, which affects the dates on which we invoice such bottlers, as well as inventory levels maintained by our distribution partners, which they alter unilaterally for their own business reasons. We reiterate that sales over a short period such as a single month or even two months should not necessarily be imputed to or regarded as indicative of results for a full quarter or any future period. During the 2018 fourth quarter, the company purchased approximately 9.4 million shares of common stock at an average purchase price of 56.99 per share for a total of 536.9 million, excluding broker commissions. Between January 1, 2019, and February 26, 2019, the company purchased approximately 2.6 million shares of common stock at an average purchase price of 54.18 per share for a total of 139 million, excluding broker commissions.

As of February 26, 2019, approximately 20.6 million remains available for repurchase under our previously authorized repurchase program. On February 26, 2019, the company's board of directors authorized a new repurchase program for the repurchase of up to an additional 500 million of the company's outstanding common stock. In conclusion, I'd like to summarize some recent positive points. Retail sales statistics from many countries around the world demonstrate that the energy category is continuing to grow and that Monster is generally growing ahead of the category in line with the earlier periods.

The new additions to the Monster family continue to add to the company's sales. We're excited about the prospects for our brand and our new product launches. We are pleased with our performance in our international markets and reiterate the growth potential for us in China and India. We are continuing with our plan to launch Monster Energy drinks with Coca-Cola Bottlers in certain new markets.

We're also proceeding with our plans for future launches of our affordable energy brands. I'd like to open the floor to questions about the quarter and year-end. Thank you. 

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator instructions] Our first question comes from the line of Caroline Levy of Macquarie. Your line is open.

Caroline Levy -- Macquarie Group -- Analyst

Thank you very much. Good afternoon. Just a quick question on -- a clarification, if you could repeat the January sales, that would be helpful. I think I heard 2 and 4%.

I just want to clarify. And then if you could just tell us a little bit more about how things are going in China. You mentioned about $3 million in losses in the quarter. How has that progressed over the course of last year? Are the losses about where you expected them to be? Do you think we will have another loss year next year? And how do you feel about the progress in China overall?

Rodney Sacks -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

OK. Let's just deal with the January sales. January sales were up 2.7% in January and on a foreign currency adjusted basis, 4.6%.

Hilton Schlosberg -- Vice Chairman and President

So Caroline, you got the points about January '18 sales being higher than ordinarily they should have been. So we spent a bit of time just talking about that. Go back to the same call we had a year ago and pick up some of the sentiments that we experienced exactly the same at that time.

Rodney Sacks -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

And then taking that into account, we have obviously also given you the Nielsen numbers for January, and you'll obviously get February. So we do caution about this being a single month on a highly stacked January from last year.

Hilton Schlosberg -- Vice Chairman and President

So Caroline, just talking very briefly about China. The loss for the quarter was very much in line with what we'd expected. We are seeing a lot of what we call green shoots in China and the major change of volumes per outlet are very respectable compared to what we've seen for Red Bull. And the launch of Ultra was particularly pleasing, and it's growing in strength.

As regards this year, we again are budgeting for a loss in China, and we actually committed -- absolutely committed to success in that territory. So we know it will be an investment. We know it will take some time to realize profitability in China, and our Coke colleagues have expressed and shared with us some of the same sentiments. But we are committed, and we believe that we will be successful in China.

Rodney Sacks -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

I'd like to just add one thing to help those comments on China that since introducing Ultra White, we've got only about three months of information in some of the modern trade, the bigger accounts. And what we are also seeing is that Ultra is being accretive. It's not cannibalizing Green, which is also positive for us. And it actually has been well received from a taste profile.

So we are quite positive about Ultra and actually very excited about the launch of Mango Loco there, which has got a really attractive can. We think that the three products in the black, white and turquoise cans, still could -- cans will start to have a much bigger impact on shelf and give us much more recognition on shelf. So we are continuing to be positive about China and the prospect for increased sales in China.

Hilton Schlosberg -- Vice Chairman and President

And just to add that the bottlers, likewise, are excited about the opportunities that the Monster brand presents for them in China.

Caroline Levy -- Macquarie Group -- Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Mark Astrachan of Stifel. Your line is open.

Mark Astrachan -- Stifel Financial Corp. -- Analyst

Hey, guys. So, I guess maybe one sort of question broadly on gross margins. I don't want to ask you for guidance or anything like that, Hilton. But I guess the numbers are still a little bit weaker than we or probably others would have expected.

So, I guess how much of it is aluminum -- I mean, I get the freight piece. I think most will get the freight piece. But what we don't see is how much inventory for aluminum you bought in 2018 potentially had much higher prices. So maybe if you could talk a bit about the cadence of that kind of cycling through and when kind of directionally some of that's should lessen.

So, without actually giving guidance but just in terms of the input, puts and takes to how long before you start seeing lower-priced inventory kind of work through would be helpful.

Hilton Schlosberg -- Vice Chairman and President

Well, as we look at aluminum, aluminum did start coming down toward the latter quarter of last year. We, from time to time, execute hedges with our aluminum can companies. And we had some hedges in place for the fourth quarter of last year really to protect ourselves against aluminum going significantly growing up as it had been for most of the year. So that's the picture of aluminum.

Aluminum coming down. We are buying at various prices, including one of our hedges hitting in at a higher price than the market price for a portion, not for all but for a portion of our aluminum. So, as we head into 2019, aluminum, in our books, will definitely start coming down. But by how much, I really can't say and I'm not at liberty to say.

But it will be coming down in 2019.

Mark Astrachan -- Stifel Financial Corp. -- Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Andrea Teixeira of JP Morgan. Your line is open.

Andrea Teixeira -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

I appreciate that you update us on the price increase internationally, and you mentioned Canada up 3% starting on February 1. Do you think -- I'm just layering your comments before that your price – very respectfully, your price elasticity in some places. So, do you think we should be thinking of that being the last price increase so far given what Hilton just said about aluminum potentially coming down? Or is that.

Rodney Sacks -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

No. I think that there are some selected countries in EMEA where we have taken certain price increases and we'll continue to take some price increases this year. But I just don't have a list of them with me. And at this point, we wouldn't like to expand further on that.

So, there will be some, but obviously, we will also take that into account when we look at the aluminum prices and what the costs are there going forward.

Andrea Teixeira -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Amit Sharma of BMO Capital Markets. Your question please.

Amit Sharma -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Hi. Good afternoon everyone. A quick clarification and then a question on -- from EMEA, the supply chain disruptions and production issues, how much did it cost in terms of your sales growth for that segment, right, in the quarter? And then as we think about gross margin in the U.S., clearly it was weaker than what we were expecting. And I hear your point on the commodity, but there is also a sales mix aspect of it.

Can you unpack that a little bit? Provide us some clarity on how much of a headwind that is and how it could continue even after you overcome the commodity headwinds.

Hilton Schlosberg -- Vice Chairman and President

OK. So regarding EMEA, it's not a precise science. And unfortunately, I just don't want to give you a number for what the impact of the supply chain issues in EMEA were in the fourth quarter. We have made some steps at the number.

We've been reviewing it continuously since the middle of 2018. But I'd rather just stay away from giving some indication of what the number is. I don't think it will be appropriate to do so. But what I can say to you is that we believe the number was in excess of one million cases, and I'm going to stop there, in the fourth quarter.

Amit Sharma -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Perfect. And then gross profit impact from sales mix in the U.S.?

Hilton Schlosberg -- Vice Chairman and President

So there definitely is an impact on sales in the U.S. And what we try to do on the call is prioritize the reasons for the decrease in gross profit. And you'll notice from the call that, No. 1 was the increases in certain input costs such as aluminum cans trading in other input costs.

Secondly was our geographic sales mix, where our international sales are increasing as a percentage of our total sales, and our foreign operations generally have lower gross margins, as you heard on the call. And the third reason was the domestic product sales mix. So, while it was definitely a factor and will continue to be a factor with the different products that the company has launched, but in the fourth quarter, it was the third reason and was not the first or the second reason. And I'd also like to stop there because when you look at our new products that will be rolled out this year, particularly the new Ultra Paradise and the Reign product, they will all be at the more traditional Monster margins and not at the coffee margins.

So they will be higher than the coffee margins.

Amit Sharma -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Laurent Grandet of Guggenheim. Your line is open.

Laurent Grandet -- Guggenheim Securities -- Analyst

Yes, good afternoon, Rodney and Hilton. I do have a question on Reign. I noticed from the packaging doesn't carry any reference to Monster or the claw. Or even on the back it says, I mean, the company manufacturing it is the Reign Beverage Company.

So I'm curious to understand why you are not leveraging your brand name as it would be probably a bit more A&M intensive to launch a new brand from scratch. I'd like to understand also the first reaction from the trade on the Reign.

Rodney Sacks -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Well, let me just talk about that. The positioning of Reign is different to the positioning of Monster. And we've made the strategic decision to not, in fact, make Reign a line extension of Monster. It needs to -- we think it should be positioned, have its own positioning, its own marketing, create its own personality.

And that, we believe, will give us it its best chance of success. We already have an extensive range of products in Monster that appeal to consumers. They have their own personality and identity. So we just felt that this was the appropriate thing for us to do.

This doesn't mean that in the future, depending on this performance category, its longevity and the size that it grows to, what it -- we believe it will expand the energy category, what it does, we will look to what we want to do in the Monster range. There is no limitation on us in having line extensions or maybe a subfamily of products in this performance energy range with BCAAs or whatever else we want to do with sort of a slightly different energy formula -- formulation. And that's something that we're looking at and open to doing. So that doesn't preclude us.

We just feel that -- and in fact, it's better and it does enable us to position the brand differently and give more shelf space. We think that it would have been more pressure on our existing shelf space had we simply launched line extensions. And we do have a number of additional line extensions which we are planning for Monster. We already described a number of them to you that are being launched.

We actually have additional launches and subbranches planned for Monster later in the year. So, we've got quite a full plate for Monster. And you can't do everything under one brand, and that's the reason that we positioned it as we have.

Hilton Schlosberg -- Vice Chairman and President

And I think it's also important to note that we're continuing with rollouts of brands under the Strategic Brands and new flavors. So, we're not neglecting the strategic brands segment either.

Rodney Sacks -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Just with regard to retail, again, it's being rolled out in March. So it's premature. But the acceptance from retailers and to the brand, to the positioning, to the taste profile that we've done and the packaging has been very positive. We are actually very happy with it, and we are going to have a focused and concerted rollout in March.

Laurent Grandet -- Guggenheim Securities -- Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Kevin Grundy of Jefferies. Your question please.

Kevin Grundy -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Quick cleanup question, I hope. I know your inclination and penchant historically has not been to guide. But Hilton, can you just confirm for us that given the moving parts -- and we understand the comment around input costs and mix, but you have a full-year pricing going in. Do you expect gross margins to be higher? If you can just confirm that that will be helpful.

And then, Rodney, on pricing, can you talk about Red Bull's pricing posture? So, from a U.S. perspective, it clearly hasn't followed yet. Is it concerning? Is there a point at which you'd consider rolling back pricing or promoting it back to trade? And then maybe internationally, what are you seeing from that? Do you think there will be further opportunity to price beyond what you've outlined on this call?

Rodney Sacks -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Well, Kevin, I'll just take the last question first. Red Bull obviously has made a strategic decision once we had announced our increase to be aggressive in some of their promotions more so than in previous year and to try and pick up some volume and share, which they have been losing for some time. We've seen that. It doesn't affect us.

We've, I think, been successful at what we strategically intended to achieve. And we are not intending to roll back any pricing at this time. We are satisfied with where we've got with pricing, and we think the pricing is fine. And so, we don't believe that Red Bull will continue because it's going to hurt their margins.

And they won't continue indefinitely, but we can't speculate as to what's in their heads. But whether they do so or not, we don't believe that would be a factor for us of any materiality, quite frankly. And so we're moving forward with our plans.

Hilton Schlosberg -- Vice Chairman and President

So just to add a little bit to that. The price increase that was planned was very carefully planned in relation to Red Bull's pricing, where there were significant gaps between our price on shelf and where Red Bull was at that time. And what we were able to do with our price increase was move us closer to the Red Bull pricing. So, if you look at the pricing and the 4% that we implemented, the objective was to get pretty close to where Red Bull had their products priced in the market.

And obviously, we're only talking about the U.S. And then on your other points on gross margin, Kevin, I don't have to give you guidance because we don't give guidance. But you've got all the facts. You know that aluminum's coming down.

We've said that freight costs are continuing to increase. You know our geographical sales mix because we've spoken about that. And we've also spoken about our new products and that the new products are largely going to be focused on better margin products. So, you can come to your own conclusion.

I think you know where I'm heading. I'm not going to give any guidance or any discussion on margin, but I think that's enough for you to be able to work it out.

Operator

Thank you. This concludes our Q&A session. At this time, I'd like to turn the call back over to Mr. Sacks for any closing remarks.

Rodney Sacks -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you. On behalf of Monster, I would like to thank everyone for their continued interest in the company. We continue to believe in the company and our growth strategy, remain committed to continuing to innovate, develop and differentiate our brands and to expand the company both at home and abroad and in particular, expand distribution of our products through the Coca-Cola bottlers system internationally. We are also particularly excited by the new opportunities that we have going forward with the portfolio of energy drink products throughout the world comprised of our Monster Energy brand together with our strategic brands, as well as Hydro, Mutant and in particular, Predator and Reign.

Thank you very much for your attention and your attendance.

Operator

[Operator signoff]

Duration: 58 minutes

Call Participants:

Rodney Sacks -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Caroline Levy -- Macquarie Group -- Analyst

Hilton Schlosberg -- Vice Chairman and President

Mark Astrachan -- Stifel Financial Corp. -- Analyst

Andrea Teixeira -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Amit Sharma -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Laurent Grandet -- Guggenheim Securities -- Analyst

Kevin Grundy -- Jefferies -- Analyst

More MNST analysis

This article is a transcript of this conference call produced for The Motley Fool. While we strive for our Foolish Best, there may be errors, omissions, or inaccuracies in this transcript. As with all our articles, The Motley Fool does not assume any responsibility for your use of this content, and we strongly encourage you to do your own research, including listening to the call yourself and reading the company's SEC filings. Please see our Terms and Conditions for additional details, including our Obligatory Capitalized Disclaimers of Liability.

More From The Motley Fool

Motley Fool Transcribing has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Monster Beverage. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.