The rise and fall of Jones Soda continued last week when the firm announced it has signed an agreement with Walmart to sell its products in the US retailer’s stores.

Back in March, the industry was sure Reed's would acquire its fellow US-based soft drinks group in a share and cash merger deal. Yet the wheels fell off the deal when Jones announced it was in talks with an unnamed rival “third party” over a merger, or even an out-and-out takeover.

The Walmart deal, then, has raised a number of questions, namely whether the company feels it can now fight on alone, or whether it is eyeing a higher takeover bid.

The company has maintained that it has several options, such as share offerings, debt refinancing and strategic partnerships, but we’ve been waiting for Jones to come up with something since late 2009.

In April the firm reported losses of US$10.5m for 2009 and sales down by 28% for the year.

However, this latest deal with Walmart, coupled with the announcement in April that the company is expanding its sales territories with the creation of jobs, suggests that the firm may finally be pulling itself out of the mire.

Jones’ shares jumped nearly 12% on news of the Walmart deal last week. Good news for Jones Soda no doubt, but one can’t help thinking that there may be more to this deal than meets the eye.

A partnership with Walmart coupled with a high share price may indeed allow the soda maker to command a higher takeover bid. Or has the firm decided it is now strong enough to remain independent, having dismissed a number of less than tasty offers?

Whether this latest deal has brought the firm back from the brink remains to be seen, but it seems possible that the urgency for a takeover may now have lost its fizz.