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Monster shares rise as sales show improvement

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Monster Beverage rose Tuesday after CEO Rodney Sacks reiterated the safety of the company's energy drinks and said sales have been improving.

THE SPARK: The company, based in Corona, Calif., held its annual shareholders meeting Monday. While noting that sales have risen in the past few months, Sacks also cautioned that it was "very, very soon" to be able to tell whether they were indicative of a long-term trend.

THE BIG PICTURE: Monster Beverage Corp. has been at the center of negative publicity for the energy drink industry in recent months, in large part because its drinks were cited in the death of a 14-year-old Maryland girl.

Monster has stood by the safety of its drinks and struck back at a lawsuit by the family of the girl, saying there's no medical evidence to back up the claim that she died of caffeine toxicity.

The Food and Drug Administration has also said it's investigating reports of deaths and other adverse health effects that cited energy drinks. The agency has noted the reports don't necessarily mean the drinks were the cause.

During the shareholders meeting Monday, Sacks expressed frustration with the media coverage that has hounded the industry and Monster specifically.

"Unfortunately, the journalist is looking to fill the page and hasn't got anything else to say so they repeat the same thing," he said.

ANALYSIS: Citi analyst Wendy Nicholson attributed Monster's improved sales to new product launches and distributor changes in Southern California and New York. But she noted that Monster said its sales in both the U.S. and overseas continue to be "choppy" and the future trends remain uncertain.

SHARE ACTION: The stock was up 5.8 percent at $57.08 in late morning trading. Shares had edged up 2 percent in 2013 after a steep slide last summer and fall.