Bud Light scandal fallout calms, boosting Anheuser-Busch revenues

Pre-tax earnings grew 5.4% at the beer maker, well ahead of the 1.9% projection

Anheuser-Busch Inbev shares rose more than 5 per cent on Wednesday, in response to a strong first-quarter performance and anticipated relief from the impact of an ongoing US Bud Light boycott.

The world’s largest brewer reported a 2.6 per cent rise in revenues, in line with expectations, and better-than-forecast earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) and volumes, including in North America, its largest region by revenues, analysts said.

The company, which makes Stella Artois and Corona beer, said it had record volumes in some of its markets, including Brazil and South Africa. Ebitda, meanwhile, grew 5.4 per cent, well ahead of the 1.9 per cent expected by analysts.

AB InBev reported a 5.4 per cent increase in normalised ebitda to almost $5 billion (€4.6 billion). The company said it expects full-year ebitda to grow in line with its medium-term outlook of between 4 and 8 per cent.


Its shares hit their highest level since February, putting them among the biggest gainers on the pan-European Stoxx 600.

“We are encouraged by our results to start the year,” chief executive Michel Doukeris said.

AB Inbev sales in the US have been hit hard by a consumer boycott of Bud Light that knocked it from the top spot as the bestselling US beer.

Its revenues in the country declined 9.1 per cent in the first quarter, with sales to retailers down 13.7 per cent due to the boycott.

But North America volumes dropped less than expected, and its performance was a big improvement compared with earlier in the boycott, analysts said.

“ABI has got its (likely) hardest quarter of 2024 out of the way with little to no bruises,” Barclays analyst Laurence Whyatt said. “Bud Light continues to weigh on results, but this is the last quarter to face a significant impact.”

The boycott is related to a conservative backlash against a social media promotion with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

It began about a year ago, which means the three months to the end of March should be the final quarter of real pain for AB InBev in terms of tough comparatives.

Sales figures from a year ago will include the boycott from here on out, making the comparatives less painful.

All brewers are set for margin expansion as price rises for key supplies from barley to aluminium slow.

Rivals Heineken and Carlsberg also produced solid first-quarter results. – Reuters