Big brands give AB Inbev Q3 profit boost

November 9, 2011 - 6:55 AM

BRUSSELS (AP) — The world's largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev NV said Wednesday its third-quarter profits rose by over 16 percent, largely on the back of the continued popularity of global brands like Stella Artois and Beck's.

Despite a slight overall decrease in overall volume, the Leuven based company reported that its normalized profit attributable to equity holders grew 16.3 percent to $1.73 billion in the quarter compared with last year's equivalent of $1.49 billion.

It says its revenue grew by 3.6 percent in the third quarter even though volumes decreased by 0.2 percent.

In the United States, it said that the share of Budweiser continued to decline although at a slower pace than previously. However its focus brands Bud Light, Michelob Ultra and Stella continued to grow. Overall in the U.S., the company said volumes continued to be "impacted by weak consumer confidence" and were slightly down.

AB InBev held out hope that Bud Light would continue to grow, especially in the light of a new contract with the National Football League and the marketing opportunities American football entails.

"There are indications that the brand is starting to benefit from the new NFL sponsorship," the company said.

Globally, Budweiser last month also extended its sponsorship of the World Cup through the 2018 edition in Russia and the 2022 event in Qatar.

That soccer contract should also pay off in Brazil over the coming years as the nation hosts the 2014 World Cup. And it will be further boosted by the activity and excitement that the 2016 Olympics in Rio will create.

The company also did well in China where Budweiser, Harbin and the regional brand Sedrin have had a combined growth of 13.6 percent in the third quarter. Overall, AB InBev beer volumes grew by 4.7 percent in China over the third quarter.