PepsiCo's beverage performance to improve this year, says research group

PepsiCo's performance in the North American beverage industry will improve this year, Connecticut-based Consumer Edge Research forecast today. Organic sales volume will decline 3 percent, but PepsiCo, the main competitor to Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, will be able to raise revenue per case, according to the research group's 73-page report on consumer staples companies.

The Gatorade brand, which shrank by about 16 percent last year, will remain a "a major effort," and turning it around is crucial to helping PepsiCo hit its long-term forecasts.

Meanwhile, evidence of PepsiCo's "successful and seamless integration" with its two main bottlers -- a deal that closed in February -- will bolster investors' confidence that PepsiCo can hit its 2010 profit targets and deliver on long-term guidance, according to the report.

Get the news faster on Twitter here, and follow our offbeat coverage on Facebook here.