Anheuser Busch InBev's global push

Brewer aims to make Budweiser the undisputed 'King of Beers.'

By Jonathan Berr Mar 8, 2012 2:25PM
Image: Beer (© Corbis)Before InBev NV bought Anheuser-Busch Cos. in 2008 in for $52 billion, 28% of Budweiser's sales came from outside the U.S. The figure now is 44% as Anheuser Busch InBev (BUD) tries to make Budweiser the "first truly" global beer brand to make up for slumping sales in its home market. 

Success is not a given.

Anheuser Busch InBev, which Thursday reported better-than-expected quarterly results, last year saw global sales of Budweiser rise 3.1%, compared with growth of 1.7% in 2010. It launched Budweiser in Brazil, a major beer market, and expanded its foothold in China, Russia and Canada. Demand was also strong in the U.K. The company noted "clear progress towards our stated near-term goal of market share stabilization in the United States," but Budweiser still lost 30 basis points of market share in its home market. 

Though Budweiser remains a work in progress, Anheuser Busch InBev has many other tricks up its sleeve. Sales of Stella Artois, a premium brand, surged 5.9% in 2011 driven by gains in the U.S., Brazil and Argentina. Bud Light Platinum, which recently rolled out in the U.S., is selling well and Michelob Ultra is gaining market share.

Beer drinking has taken a number of hits over the years, ranging from America's growing health consciousness to the rising popularity of alternatives, such as wine coolers, to stepped up drunk- driving laws. Budweiser wound up selling itself in part because of this. Anheuser Busch InBev seems to have made progress in reversing the trend but still has a long ways to go.

Shares of Anheuser Busch InBev are up about 15% this year. The stock has a one-year price target of $73.28, about 5% above where it currently trades. If it can restore Budweiser's royal luster, which appears doable, the Belgian company will easily blow by that forecast. 

Jonathan Berr enjoys about a beer a quarter. He owns no shares listed here.




Tags: BUD
1Comment
Mar 12, 2012 4:36PM
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I would gladly go back to them if they were an American owned company.
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