AB InBev Reports "Better-than-Expected" Profits, Despite Challenges in Brazil

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08 May 2017 --- Anheuser-Busch InBev reported an increase in underlying Q1 profits and a return to growth in Brazil but failed to stem the decline of Bud Light in the US.

 

Revenue for the company grew by 3.7% in the quarter, with revenue per hl growth of 4.3%, driven by revenue management initiatives as well as strong premium brand performance. On a constant geographic basis, revenue per hl grew by 4.5%.

Total volumes declined by 0.5%, while own beer volumes were down by 0.2%. Good growth in own beer volumes was achieved in China, Brazil and Mexico, while declines were recorded in the US, Colombia and South Africa.

Brazil is AB InBev’s second-biggest market after the US, with 15 per cent of group sales, and a slump in demand last year hit group profits. 

Combined revenues of three global brands, Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona, grew by 12.1%. Budweiser revenues grew by 7.3%, with 16.4% growth in revenues outside of the US.

Stella Artois revenues grew by 21.1%, driven mainly by growth in the US and Argentina. Corona had a solid quarter as well, with revenues growing 18.2%, with 48.2%. 

The first quarter of 2017, which was also the second quarter as a combined company, saw organic revenue growth of 3.7%, with volumes down marginally. Global revenue growth was driven by higher volumes in Latin America North, Latin America South, and Asia Pacific, and further supported by revenue management and premiumization initiatives throughout their markets.

Organic EBITDA grew by 5.8%, with EBITDA margin expansion of 76 bps, driven by top-line growth and the realization of synergies, offsetting an anticipated weak performance in Brazil, where EBITDA was down by 23.3%. This was due to the combined impact of a significant cost of sales per hl increase and a decline in revenue per hl.

Excluding Brazil, business delivered solid results with revenue up 4.2% and EBITDA growing by 12.3%. Ab InBev remain optimistic about Brazil in the long run, and more specifically regarding 2017, we will soon begin cycling more favorable revenue per hl comparables, while cost of sales per hl growth will decelerate to between a flattish and low single-digit increase in the second half of 2017.

Global brands continued to show solid growth, with the combined portfolio growing revenue by over 12%. Budweiser continued to perform well, supported by a powerful Chinese New Year campaign, as well as Super Bowl activations introduced for the first time in international markets such as the UK and Brazil.

Stella Artois grew revenues by more than 20%, with good volume-led performances coming from the US and Argentina. This quarter was especially exciting for the brand, as its Buy a Lady a Drink partnership with Water.org, which is aimed at ending the global water crisis, was scaled out to 7 markets.

Corona continued its impressive track record of growth with revenues up by over 18% and by almost 50% outside of Mexico, driven primarily by China, the UK and Colombia.

Ab InBev will continue fueling the growth of their global brands by leveraging their respective commercial platforms with consistent communication and execution around the world, while expanding to new markets such as Australia, Peru, Colombia and South Africa.

The SAB integration continues at a fast pace, with 252 million USD of synergies captured in 1Q17.

Beyond the cost synergies, AB InBev are every day more excited about the top-line growth opportunities arising from the combination of these two great companies.

Sales in the US underperformed in the market despite relaunch of best-selling brand Bud Light. 

AB InBev purchased its 10th craft brewery, Wicked Weed, on May 3. The buyout sent shock waves rippling through the beer world. Craft beer bars across the US are refusing to sell Wicked Weed or any other AB InBev-owned beer.

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