UPDATE 1-Monster Beverage profit misses Street on higher promotions

Wed Nov 7, 2012 5:22pm EST

* Third-quarter earnings/share $0.47 vs estimates $0.55

* Shares down 12 percent after market

Nov 7 (Reuters) - Monster Beverage Corp reported a third-quarter profit below Wall Street expectations, hurt by higher promotional offers that weighed on margins.

Shares of the energy drink maker fell 12 percent in extended trading. They closed at $44.97 on the Nasdaq on Wednesday.

Gross margin for the quarter ended Sept. 30 fell to 50.5 percent from 52.7 percent a year earlier.

Promotional offers, which mainly include discounts given to its distributors or retail customers, rose 23 percent.

Energy drinks have come under review in recent times due to health concerns surrounding some ingredients, such as the amount of caffeine used in the products.

The U.S. Food and Drug administration said last month it was investigating reports of five deaths that may be related to Monster Beverage's namesake drinks.

The company, which also sells drinks such as Java Monster and X-Press Monster, did not comment on the investigation in its earnings statement.

Sales of energy drinks form the fastest growing segment of the soft drinks market. Sales rose 17 percent to $9 billion in 2011 and are expected to exceed $10 billion this year, according to Beverage Digest.

Monster's net income for the quarter rose to $86.1 million, or 47 cents per share, from $82.4 million or 44 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of 55 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net sales increased 14.2 percent to $541.9 million.

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