Monster Beverage Downgraded To Market Perform From Outperform At BMO Capital

BMO Capital analyst Amit Sharma downgraded Monster Beverage (MNST) to Market Perform from Outperform with an unchanged price target of $62. The stock closed yesterday up 58c to $61.19.

Monster's current valuation, both absolute and relative to peers, "may be as good it gets," Sharma tells investors in a research note. Due to an "unfavorable" sales/product mix and emerging competition in the U.S. from Bang, as well as "disappointing" margin progression abroad, the analyst sees limited ability for the company to meaningfully exceed expectations and justify a higher valuation multiple. Red Bull is not following Monster on its recent price and also appears to be expanding its price cuts to the larger single-serve segment in Walmart (WMT), the analyst contends.

Further, he points out that Bang is now capturing nearly 40% of energy drinks growth. Lastly, Sharma sees a "dwindling likelihood" of the "long-hoped-for" buyout of Monster Beverage by Coca-Cola (KO). 

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