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AB InBev Is Tasty for Investors

Brewers do well in the currently challenging economic environment: latest example is Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, which serves drinkers around the world beers like Budweiser, Stella Artois or Becks.

The reason for the relatively solid share price performance of AB InBev or peers like Heineken is rather that consumers drink more alcohol in the crisis. In fact waning consumer confidence weighs on the industry results in mature markets.

But brewers have been forced much earlier than other industries to widen their global footprint to balance out revenue streams. Still, for AB InBev the U.S. is the largest market, with volume growth most notably is in Brazil and China, which almost offsets volume declines in the U.S. and Europe.

AB InBev’s shares have lost just roughly 4% of their value so far this year, making it one of the top-five performers in Brussels benchmark index Bel 20, which has lost almost 20% so far this year. Peer Heineken shows a similar performance with a year-to-date decrease of 6.5%, compared to a 16.7% decline of benchmark index AEX, despite both brewers having a significant exposure to mature markets like North America and Europe.

Analysts at KBC Securities said:

“Although low organic growth and the declining rate of cost synergies make it hard to find a short term trigger, the defensive earnings character, beer category leadership with strong market positions in some of the world’s largest beer profit pools [like the U.S. and Brazil] with also significant pricing power prompt us to reiterate our accumulate rating with a €47 target price.”

14 Nov. 2011

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