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Has National Beverage Management Lost Its Mind?

Motley Fool Staff, The Motley Fool

There's a certain degree of sameness to most quarterly earnings press releases, a standard formula of corporate-speak in which the numbers, good or bad, are discussed in a wholly rational fashion. Most quarterly earnings releases -- not all. Among the exceptions is National Beverage's (NASDAQ: FIZZ) latest: The company that owns the LaCroix Sparkling Water brand had a poor quarter, and the CEO's explanation about why was unique.

In this segment of the Motley Fool Money podcast, host Chris Hill and Fool senior analysts Andy Cross, Ron Gross, and Jason Moser reflect on the weirdness of the press release, and consider the beverage business more broadly.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on March 8, 2019.

Chris Hill: From Ben Farber, who writes, "I'm a subscriber to several Motley Fool services and consider myself an avid listener of MarketFoolery and Motley Fool Money. I'm not a shareholder of National Beverage Corp., but I saw their latest earnings report and I think it's a contender for most unhinged company press release. I'm interested if you agree. Love the shows, keep up the great work."

Thank you, Ben, for the question! For those unfamiliar, National Beverage, the parent company of La Croix sparkling water, came out with their third-quarter report. Shares down 20% on Friday. Chairman CEO Nick Caporella blamed the drop in sales and profits on, and I'm quoting here, "injustice." He wrote, "We are truly sorry for these results. Negligence nor mismanagement nor woeful acts of God were the reasons. Much of this was the result of injustice. Managing a brand is not so different from caring for someone who becomes handicapped. Brands do not see or hear so they are at the mercy of their owners or care providers who must preserve the dignity and special character that the brand exemplifies. It is important that La Croix's true character is not devalued intentionally in any way. National Beverage Corp. is and will remain the preeminent innovator that adds zest and authenticity to the sparkling water phenomenon in North America."

I'm stunned by this! I'm stunned that a lawyer at the company said, "Sure. Go ahead and put this out." Unhinged is one word to describe this.

Ron Gross: Yeah, if you told me that was a tweet a la Elon Musk or something like that --

Hill: John Legere, T-Mobile.

Gross: -- I would be like, "OK, that's still kind of weird." But this is a press release! Reviewed by the company, the CFO, the general counsel! I would imagine the employees around that CEO are just scratching their heads.

Jason Moser: That guy's full of something.

Gross: [laughs] Full of fizz!

Moser: Listen, man, I'm a big seltzer drinker. I love it! But I find myself buying more of the store brand seltzer than La Croix. We were talking this morning, Ron agreed, they have some really funky flavors.

Gross: Coconut turmeric!

Moser: Maybe the injustice is they can't give me a simple lime seltzer!

Andy Cross: There's also more competition, too. There's more lines at Whole Foods, when we walk down the street to our local Whole Foods. We're seeing those. I see them more in the office, those competitors. They're not the only play on the block anymore.

Gross: Coke has one, Pepsi has one.

Hill: I was just going to say, look at the biggest carbonated beverage companies in America. They're pushing these brands even more.

Gross: Investment from Guggenheim just moved to a sell recommendation, actually, which you don't see very often, because it's going to be hard for them to regain market share.

Cross: And you see a lot of discounting in that space. Again, grocery stores becoming more and more cost competitive. La Croix is getting more and more discounted shelf space.

Andy Cross owns shares of PepsiCo, Inc. Chris Hill has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Jason Moser has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Ron Gross has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends National Beverage and T-Mobile US. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.