AB InBev sells less beer but makes more money
AB InBev has reported better-than-expected revenue in its third quarter, despite consumers buying less of its beer.
The Belgian maker, known for brands such as Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona, revealed that overall volumes fell 3.4% but revenue for the quarter rose to US$15.57 billion from US$15.09 billion, despite sales waning.
North America in particular saw volumes fall 17.1% compared with a drop of 14.5% in the second quarter, a nod to the fact that sales in the region have been falling since the business partnered with Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender social-media star, which sparked a right-wing boycott that caused sales of AB InBev’s Bud Light brands to fall from favour.
For Q3 however, overall, the results showed that net profit for the quarter still rose to US$1.47 billion from US$1.43 billion for the same time last year. Plus, on an organic basis, revenue grew 5%, beating its anticipated market consensus rise of 4.7%.
EBITDA rose to US$5.43 billion from US$5.31 billion and the beer giant also announced a US$1 billion share buyback after years of investors paying down debt from acquisitions.
AB InBev also said it would offer $3 billion in cash for bonds as it continues to cut down its debt pile – a situation created by its previous acquisitions that saw it absorb several major brewers.
Despite its prowess in securing brands, following the acquisition of SABMiller in 2016, AB InBev has needed to reduce its debt pile of more than US$100 billion. To tackle this, it has refocused on organic growth and managed to bring down debts, but rumours suggest investors who hope to see their funds returned are eyeing the situation keenly.
The brewer reported in the third quarter that its no-alcohol beer portfolio had delivered more than 10% revenue growth this quarter, reflecting the success of similar products by other brewers, such as Carlsberg and Heineken. Performance was particularly driven by Budweiser Zero in Brazil and growth of Corona Cero in Canada, Mexico and Europe.
Across its premium brands, it said that Corona had delivered a revenue increase of almost a fifth to 18.8% and Bud had grown by 11.8% with Stella Artois achieving 20.3% revenue growth.
In terms of its Beyond Beer business, this contributed US$385m of revenue for the quarter, which was a small increase on the same time in 2022, stating that global growth was offset by a soft malt-based seltzer industry in the US.
In the company’s Q3 results statement, AB InBev said: “We continue to focus on deleveraging and have approved a cash tender offer for up to US$3 billion in aggregate purchase price of outstanding bonds,” and explained that its board had also approved the share buyback to be executed over the next 12 months.
Michel Doukeris, CEO, AB InBev, said of the results: “The strength of our global footprint delivered another quarter of top- and bottom-line growth. Revenue increased by 5.0% with an EBITDA increase of 4.1%. We continue to invest in our strategic priorities for the long-term.”