-- Monster Beverage Corp.'s shares soared on Monday following a report that Coca-Cola Co. was considering buying the energy drink maker, but the world's biggest soft drink maker later denied the discussions are under way.
The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed people in reporting that Coca-Cola was in talks to buy Monster. If a deal transpired, Monster would be Coca-Cola's largest brand acquisition ever.
Coca-Cola said late Monday that no such discussion is in process.
Monster declined to discuss the matter, citing company policy.
The companies have a distribution relationship in many markets so they always are in some contact.
"At this time, we are not in discussions to acquire the Monster Beverage Corporation. We continue to review the best ways to maximize the value of our relationship," Coca-Cola said in a statement.
The deal didn't seem farfetched to investors because Coca-Cola is constantly looking beyond soda for growth and has seen some success in energy drinks. In its fiscal first quarter, for instance, it sold 4 percent more Coca-Cola around the world than a year earlier, while it sold 15 percent more bottled water and 25 percent more energy drinks.
Coca-Cola's energy drinks include Full Throttle, Fuze, burn and Gladiator.
Monster Beverage, based in Corona, Calif., sells juices, sodas and other drinks under brands such as Monster Energy and Hansen's. Its net income rose 35 percent in its last fiscal year to $286.2 million.
Formerly known as Hansen Natural Corp. and known for its juices and natural beverages, the company released Monster Energy in 2002. The drink's tremendous popularity ultimately redefined the company, and it renamed itself Monster in January.
It says its energy drink sales are growing faster than the category as a whole, which includes Red Bull, Rockstar and other competitors. Monster now offers a variety of energy drinks around the globe. This year, it entered new markets including Poland and Japan.
Monster's stock was one of the top gainers on the Nasdaq early Monday on speculation about a possible acquisition. The Nasdaq paused the stock's trading three times by midday based on the activity.
Shares of Monster spiked to a record high of $83.96, which was 27 percent above their previous 52-week trading high of $65.94, reached last week. But they closed down 53 cents at $65.Shares of Coca-Cola, based in Atlanta, fell 31 cents to close at $76.32.