UPDATE 2-Health concerns drag on Monster Beverage sales

Wed May 8, 2013 6:46pm EDT
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* First-quarter profit $0.37/share vs $0.41 year ago

* Revenue rises 7 pct

* Operating costs up 26 pct

* Shares fall 16 pct after market (Litigation details, conference call comments)

May 8 (Reuters) - Energy drinks maker Monster Beverage Corp's sales missed analysts' estimates as the industry took a hit from concerns over the health risks of such drinks, sending its shares down 16 percent after the bell.

Energy drinks have come under review for their caffeine levels, which opponents argue, could lead to serious cardiac and other health problems. The U.S. FDA is investigating reports of five deaths that may be associated with Monster's energy drink.

"The softness in the energy drinks market ... continued through the first quarter of 2013, we believe partially due to the ongoing negative publicity that continues to appear in the media questioning the safety of energy drinks," Chief Executive Rodney Sacks said on a conference call with analysts.

Sales at Monster, which has posted double-digit quarterly sales growth over the past two years, rose 7 percent to $484.2 million in the first quarter.

Analysts on average were expecting sales of $501.7 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.   Continued...