Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) may still be recovering from its hangover, but shares of the Bud Light parent are up roughly 5% on Tuesday after announcing a $1 billion buyback program.
The buyback will be executed over the next 12 months, and begin “almost immediately,” CFO Fernando Tennenbaum said on a call with investors.
Bank of America analyst Andrea Pistacchi said while the move is “not large,” it was “not expected.”
In addition, the company is trying to deleverage by approving a cash offer to purchase up to $3 billion worth of bonds.
However, Q3 earnings results were mixed, as US volume growth continues to drag down its performance. Its US revenue dropped 13.5%, as sales to wholesalers dropped by 17.6% and sales to retailers were down by 16.6%. That’s primarily due to the decline of Bud Light and a flush Q3 2022, when buyers tried to get ahead of higher prices implemented in October by purchasing early.
These numbers come seven months after a marketing campaign with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney sparked a widespread boycott of Bud Light. It lost its crown as America’s favorite beer to Modelo in May.
In the call with investors, CEO Michel Doukeris said Bud Light drinkers are ready to come back and take a swig once more.
Meanwhile, AB InBev also saw softness in Europe and growth in the Middle Americas, Africa, and Asia–Pacific (APAC) regions.
Revenue increased by 5% to $15.57 billion, slightly lower than Bloomberg estimates, while adjusted earnings per share came in at $0.86.
The total volume sold declined by 3.4% in Q3. Beer volumes dropped 4%, but non-beer volumes grew by 1.4%.
AB InBev stock is down over 5% year to date, compared to the S&P 500’s 8.5% gain.
The earnings rundown
Revenue: $15.57 billion versus $15.84 billion expected
Adjusted EPS: $0.86 versus $0.85 expected
Volume Growth: -3.4% versus -2.29% expected
Price Growth: 8.40% versus 6.94%
Bank of America reiterated its recent upgrade of AB InBev stock from Neutral to Buy, saying the impact of the Bud Light boycott fallout, cost pressures, and its investments in Latin America are already baked into the stock price.
“Q3 results point that way, with better than expected margins. Margin expansion should lead to better and more consistent organic profit growth over the medium term,” Bank of America’s Pistacchi wrote in a note to clients.
The company also continues to invest in marketing, including a Bud Light partnership with the UFC that’s set to begin Jan. 1, 2024. Financial deals have not yet been disclosed, but Bud Light was UFC’s official sponsor more than 15 years ago.
“They’re trying to find some new people and I think the UFC provides them the opportunity to do so,” said Anjali Bal, associate professor of marketing at Babson College. The company won’t give up on the Bud franchise, she added.
“I could not be more excited about joining or rejoining UFC on this comeback and to have Bud Light in the US for the fans and Budweiser being activated globally,” Doukeris said on the call.
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