EconomyWritten by Havre On 19 November 2012
Energy Drinks And “Adverse Events”

Popular energy drinks are in the news lately due to FDA reports regarding “adverse events” related to their consumption. The FDA confirmed or disclosed 18 filings alleging fatalities and an additional 150 filings involving injuries from the top four sellers, Red Bull, Monster Energy, Rockstar and 5-Hour Energy.

The New York Times is reporting that 90 of the adverse events were from 5-Hour Energy and possibly 13 involving fatalities. The Times also reported that another Federal report found over 13,000 emergency room visits in 2009 involved energy drinks.

The market is huge and growing rapidly, with retail sales in 2011 at $8.9 billion, up 16 percent year-over-year. Red Bull, the most popular, had global sales of 4.6 billion cans, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Created in 1987, Red Bull is based in Austria and its slogan is “Red Bull gives you wings.” It has shared its success by sponsoring a myriad of events, mostly sports, Formula 1 racing and most notably  “Fearless Felix’s” record setting high altitude skydive. That event alone was watched by millions worldwide.

What we have seen from the release of these reports is that Monster Energy (MNST, NASDAQ), the only publicly traded as a “pure-play,” has seen its stock price cut in half. In June, its share price was hovering around $80 per share and last Friday it closed at about $39 per share.

The caffeine levels aren’t really too bad when you consider that an 8-ounce cup of coffee has about 100 to 150 milligrams of caffeine. 5-Hour Energy has approximately 215 milligrams of caffeine. Some speculate that 5-Hour has amino acids as an ingredient, which might be more detrimental than the caffeine levels.

Put into perspective, the number of adverse events is very small in comparison to the overall market. Companies are still pursuing energy-boosting products, like Pepsi Frito-Lay’s new caffeinated Cracker Jacks. The new product will contain about 70 milligrams of caffeine in a 2-ounce pack, and will be marketed as “Cracker Jack’d.”

You have to say that Starbucks has shown that caffeine sells over and over again. Maybe the new Hostess Twinkie owners will add a caffeine-induced product.

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Havre

Randy Havre has a wealth of experience in the financial industry. In 1987, he established his own full-service stock brokerage firm, which was also registered with the SEC as an Investment Advisory Firm, managing money for the State of Hawaii’s pension fund, among other portfolios. In 1994, he started his first of three Hawaii based Venture Capital Funds. Additionally, he wrote a weekly stock column in the Pacific Business News for 21 years, taught Finance 315 Portfolio Management and Investment Strategies at the University of Hawaii for five years and is on KHON’s Morning News as a business/financial analysis twice weekly. Over the past nine years, Havre has been active in South America doing business development work for some of his portfolio companies, mentoring entrepreneurs and advising investors.

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