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Anheuser-Busch Beats Earnings Estimates as Stella, Bud Sales Increase


Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD), the world's largest brewer, topped earnings estimates for the fourth quarter through increased sales of Budweiser and Stella Arotis.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or normalized earnings, were $4.2 billion, beating analyst's estimates of $4.1 billion and last year's normalized earnings of $3.9 billion, the Belgium-based company said today in a statement.

Net profit rose 63% for the quarter from $1.56 billion in 2010 to $2.54 billion. Earnings per share were $1.16 in the fourth quarter, compared to $0.61 a year earlier.

Sales of the brewer's flagship brands – Budweiser and Stella Aortis – drove increased earnings. Sales of Budweiser rose 3.1% globally in 2011, the second consecutive year of growth. Sales by volume grew by double digits in China and it is the number one beer brand in Canada with 13% of the market. Stella Aortis sales grew by 5.9% over the same time with more than 200% growth in Brazil and double digit growth in the United States and Argentina, where there were 24% and 13% increases in sales.

Budweiser continues to lose market share in the U.S. following an October price increase, coupled with low consumer confidence and high unemployment, driving down beer drinking. Early 2012 has been more promising, the company said in an earnings conference call today, as the job market expands and consumer confidence hovers near a four-year high. The brewer plans to continue its National Football League sponsorship.

2011 Budweiser sales were the second highest ever in the United Kingdom, following 2010 when sales were driven by the FIFA World Cup. Anheuser-Busch announced plans last year to continue sponsorship of the FIFA World Cup through its Budweiser brand until the 2022 match.

Anheuser-Busch is trying to become the global beer brand. It launched Budweiser in Russia in May 2010 and currently has a 1% market share. The brand was launched in Argentina in August.

The brewer doubled its dividend to 1.20 Euros per share. The dividend will be payable May 3 to shareholders of record May 2. The dividend increase is pending shareholder approval.

Posted-In: Anheuser-Busch InBevEarnings News


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