AB InBev stock drops as analysts look for “stability” in lower Bud Light sales

Shares of Bud Light subsidiary Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) are down 7.6% since the company reported earnings May 4 as the controversy surrounding Dylan Mulvaney continues to weigh on the beer giant’s sales.

Bud Light sales during the week of May 6 were down 23.6% compared to the same period a year ago, according to data from Bump Williams Consulting and Nielsen NIQ citing Evercore ISI.

That’s a slightly larger decline than the previous week ending April 29, which saw Bud Light sales drop 23.4% year-over-year. After the initial boycott, sales fell 6.9% for the week ending April 8th.

It’s the fourth consecutive week that Bud Light sales have declined — and it comes after Mulvaney, the transgender influencer and TikTok personality, took an Instagram post during March Madness basketball that endorsed beer.

Following this post, the company saw sales decline throughout April and into May after an April 3 video clip from country singer Kid Rock apparently led to a widespread boycott among some US consumers.

The entire AB InBev portfolio also appears to be feeling the impact.

Budweiser sales fell 11.4% in the week ended April 29; That decline recovered marginally to 9.7% year-over-year in the week ended May 6th.

Michelob Ultra also saw sales decline 4.3% year-over-year in the week ending April 29; Last week, sales of the beer brand were down 2.9% from a year ago.

Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Michel Demetrius Docris played down the controversy on a call with investors. He said Mulvaney’s social media post was “one post, not a campaign or official advertisement”. Mulvaney has 1.8 million followers on Instagram.

After the call, others, including those from the LGBTIQA+ community like 2Bears Tavern Uptown in Chicago, decided to boycott the brand as well.

In an Instagram post, the bar venue said: “Anheuser-Busch’s decision to drop its support of Mulvaney in response to the ignorant and hateful objections by some of its customers shows how little Anheuser-Busch cares about the LGBTIQA+ community…”

“stability” to undo

While Bud Light sales are still in decline, Robert Ottenstein, an analyst at Evercore ISI, said the company may have seen the worst of it as the summer months approach.

In a note to clients, Ottenstein said: “The second week of stable trends enhances the likelihood that tracked channels will reach a stabilization point, albeit at much lower levels for AB InBev than before the controversy.”

Doukeris of AB InBev said the company has “significantly increased” investment in its US brands, “including tripling median (marketing) spending over the summer” as it aims to focus on sports, music and consumer communication “what beer needs .”

Recent sales trends for the rest of the AB InBev portfolio may also mean that better news is on the horizon.

“While Bud Light trends have remained essentially the same, the rest of the ABI portfolio has improved sequentially, which is a positive sign that trends affecting the rest of the portfolio may begin to reverse,” Ottenstein said. “However, we also note that all of TAP’s brands accelerated in the most recent week, which may indicate that overall industry strength positively impacted the data.”

The week ending May 6 marked the biggest sales week for Molson Coors’ (TAP) portfolio since controversy hit its competitor.

Last week, Coors Light sales were up 22.2% year over year while Miller Lite sales were up 22.8%.

A sign disparaging a Bud Lite beer is seen along a country road on April 21, 2023 in Arco, Idaho. (Photo by Natalie Bering/Getty Images)

Brooke DiPalma is a correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma Or email her at [email protected].

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