A-B InBev Profits Double Despite Sales Dip

Anheuser-Busch InBev reported a surge in earnings and profits in the fourth quarter and in 2013 and cited the strong performance of the company’s “global brands” such as Budweiser and Corona in international markets and the successful integration of acquired Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo.

A-B InBev on Wednesday reported net income for the fourth quarter of $2.52 billion, compared with $1.72 billion in the last quarter in 2012, up 44 percent, and a doubling of net income for 2013, to $14.4 billion from $7.2 billion. Revenue was $43.2 billion in 2013, up 8.6 percent from 2012.

Normalized earnings per share grew 9.1 percent to $4.91 in 2013, up from $4.50 in 2012, and rose to $1.46 in the fourth quarter, up 32.7 percent from $1.10 in the fourth quarter 2012.

A-B InBev reported the large gains in spite of declines in total sales volume of 2 percent for the year and 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter.

A-B InBev saw global brands grow 4.7 percent in sales. Budweiser, one of A-B InBev’s key global brands, saw 6.4 percent growth on strong sales in China, Brazil, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Corona sales grew 3.9 percent as a result of continued success in the Mexican market.

The company was able to overcome the declines of the Bud Light and Budweiser families in the U.S. by increasing sales of its premium brands such as Budweiser Black Crown and Michelob Ultra, but the only region that saw total beer volume rise was its Asia Pacific category. In China, where Budweiser is still the King of Beers at a market share of over 50 percent, sales volumes grew by 8.9 percent in 2013 and 9.8 percent in the fourth quarter due to industry growth and market share gains.

A-B InBev also had good news about its June acquisition of former Corona owner Grupo Modelo, reporting cost eliminations to date of $460 million and a commitment to eliminating $1 billion in costs by the end of 2016. The company also affirmed its goal of delivering $500 million in working capital improvements within two years of the deal’s closing.

A-B InBev news in the last three months of the year included the reintroduction of the Project Twelve 12-packs that brought forth Budweiser Black Crown in 2013 and the investment of $10 million in its Williamsburg, Va. brewery. The company also reported that it will be reacquiring South Korean Oriental Brewery for $5.8 billion, an entity sold off after the 2008 acquisition of Anheuser-Busch.

The company expressed excitement about the Oriental deal, citing a “a major addition to our platform in the fast-growing Asia Pacific region,” in the earnings release, adding that “South Korea is an attractive beer market, with a strong domestic growth outlook and rising demand for premium beer brands.”

Locally, the past year saw the elimination of less than 30 jobs in St. Louis as A-B InBev reorganized departments in its U.S. business services area. Job losses were minimized by counting unfilled positions, and some of the jobs were transferred to one of A-B InBev’s global centers in Argentin,  according to KSDK.

In better news for St. Louisans and beer enthusiasts, A-B opened a biergarten in August as part of the tour offered at the historic brewery downtown.

St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch is a wholly owned subsidiary of Belgium-based A-B Inbev, and serves as the North American headquarters for the world’s largest brewer. Anheuser-Busch employs around 4,000 in the St. Louis area, including employees in Southern Illinois.

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