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AB InBev Reports Higher-than-Expected Revenue

But the brewer continued to see ongoing weakness in the U.S.

Cans of Bud Light beer are seen before a major league baseball game on April 25, 2023, in Philadelphia.
Cans of Bud Light beer are seen before a major league baseball game on April 25, 2023, in Philadelphia.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File

Anheuser-Busch InBev reported higher-than-expected revenue in the first quarter despite lower sales in the U.S. and China.

The world's largest brewer β€” whose brands include Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona β€” said its revenue rose 2.6% to $14.5 billion. That beat Wall Street's forecast of $14.3 billion, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

Volumes declined 0.6% for the quarter, the Leuven, Belgium-based company said. Beer volumes were down 1.3%, while volumes of non-beer products – including Cutwater and Nutrl spirits – rose 3.5%.

The company continued to struggle in the U.S., where revenue fell by 9% for the January-March period. North American beer volumes dropped 10% for the quarter.

Sales of Bud Light, the company's longtime bestseller in the U.S., plunged last spring amid conservative backlash after the brand sent a commemorative can to transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Customers who felt Bud Light didn't do enough to support Mulvaney also abandoned the brand.

InBev CEO Michel Doukeris said Wednesday that U.S. beer volumes did improve from the end of last year, and the company is seeing significant U.S. market share gains for some of its other brands, including Michelob Ultra and Busch Light.

Doukeris said Michelob Ultra will get a further marketing push during the Olympics this summer. In January, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee announced that Michelob Ultra will be the exclusive beer sponsor for Team U.S.A. for this summer's Olympics and will be the official beer sponsor of the Olympic games in Los Angeles in 2028.

AB InBev also announced a deal with the International Olympic Committee in January which makes it the first beer brand to sponsor the Olympics in the 40-year history of the sponsorship program. Corona Cero, the zero-alcohol version of the Corona brand, will be the focus of the global sponsorship.

"We will be focused on doing what we do best. Our brands will show up in a big way," Doukeris said during a conference call with investors Wednesday.

Doukeris said bad weather marred first-quarter sales in China, where revenue was down 2.7%. But he said the long-term trend toward premiumization in China bodes well for InBev's brands.

InBev said revenue increased in other key markets during the quarter, including Europe, Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.

Excluding one-time items, net income grew 15% to $1.5 billion, or 75 cents per share. That beat Wall Street's expectation of a 65 cent profit.

AB InBev shares were up more than 4% in morning trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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