Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD), one of the world's largest brewers and maker of the ubiquitous Budweiser, Stella Artois, and Beck's beer brands, says volumes slipped 0.4 percent during the first quarter, as consumers had to buy slightly less of a good thing in North America due to pricier beer.
Higher prices may have cut into volumes, but they did help boost the top line, with first quarter revenue climbing 5.6 percent to $9 billion during the period.
Net profits more than doubled in the quarter, climbing to $964 million from $475 million.
"High levels of unemployment, especially amongst core consumers, continue to affect overall beer industry volumes," the company says of its U.S business in an earnings statement.
For a beer producer operating in a weak economic environment, boosting revenue is hard work. "Brand health and top line organic growth remain our priorities," the company says, especially in the U.S. and Brazilian markets.
The brewer is optimistic that sales won't be flat for long. "We continue to believe that a recovery in the U.S. economy is a question of when and not if," the company adds.
"Continuous investments behind our brands, coupled with revenue management discipline and improved brand mix, should allow us to deliver revenue per hectoliter growth ahead of inflation."
Looking ahead to growth
Volume should improve in the Brazilian markets since inclement weather in the form of floods dampened sales on top of higher prices.
Analysts tracked by Thompson/First Call have a mean price target of $66.50, a 9 percent increase over recent trading action.
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