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Anheuser-Busch Continues Its Push to Retake the Crown

Photo of close ups of Bud and Bud Light bottles. Anheuser-Busch Boosts Efforts to Reclaim Top Spot in Beer Market.Once known as the home of "The King of Beers," Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD) has been less than royal lately. Shares of BUD stock are down 23.86% over the past five years. And it's important to note that four of those years had nothing to do with a social media controversy surrounding the company's Bud Light brand.  

Nevertheless, let's give the consumer staples stock its due. BUD shares climbed more than 7% during the week the company reported earnings. The company's revenue and earnings exceeded expectations, and it guided higher for the full year with the belief that the worst of the backlash was behind it. 

The Real Story Is Pricing Power 

Anheuser-Busch's growth is truly driven by its pricing power. The company is reporting revenue growth of 3% at a time when worldwide volumes are down 1%. And much of that volume decline is in North America and not just due to Bud Light. The company acknowledges that the entire beer industry is undergoing a massive transformation. Consumers aren't drinking less beer; they just have more options, especially with the popularity of craft beer.  


Is the Consumer Tapped Out? 

Anheuser-Busch cited the social media backlash and boycott of its Bud Light brand as a reason for its declining revenue and earnings. In May 2023, Bud Light lost its title of best-selling light beer to Modelo, which is under the Constellation Brands Inc. (NYSE: STZ) umbrella. But the bigger issue was the loss of shelf space for Bud Light. The company has math on its side, and if the volume is dropping, the volume is dropping.  

There is some commentary that investors should be bullish now that the tough comparisons to 2023 are over. Here's where investors should take the advice, as the kids say, "Don't get it twisted." 

The company's overall revenue throughout its portfolio was higher year-over-year in all but one of the last four quarters. The same can be said of earnings per share (EPS). That's because Anheuser-Busch's other brands, particularly Corona, are picking up the slack from Bud Light.

The company has fallen short of analysts' estimates in those four quarters. But revenue and earnings that have grown year-over-year don't make the case that the tough comps are behind the company. 

In fact, with the consumer showing signs of pulling back, you can make an opposite argument. Perhaps the tougher quarters are still to come. Supporting that thought is the fact that analysts are calling for revenue growth of around 5% in the coming year. That's not bullish. On the other hand, Anheuser-Busch may benefit if consumers decide to trade down.  

Can Resistance Become Support? 

BUD stock hit its 52-week high in January 2024 at $66.24. Since then, the stock has failed to hit that level on two other occasions. The spike in the stock price has lifted the share price over $64. Investors will want to see if the third time is the charm.  

Chart showing how BUD stock hit its 52-week high in January 2024 at $66.24. Since then, the stock has failed to hit that level on two other occasions.

If it is, then investors can start looking at the analysts' consensus price target of $71 as a new level of resistance.  

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