BUD reported Q1 EPS this morning and ABI BB is currently down about 3% in European trading – volume was weak across the board and volume guidance was soft relative to expectations.
What we liked:
- Beat on EPS ($1.16 versus $0.98 consensus), but entirely due to below the line items (tax rate, lower interest expense year on year)
- Pricing remained robust leading to constant currency organic revenue growth of +1.5% against a reasonably difficult comparison (Q2 comps ease, Q3 and Q4 stiffen) despite a decline in volume
What we didn’t like:
- Volume softness across multiple regions save for Asia Pacific with organic volume declining 4.1% against the most difficult comparison of the year
- Market share decline in the U.S. (50 bps)
- Lack of operating leverage (unsurprising, given volume declines) as constant currency EBIT grew only 0.2% on constant currency revenue growth of +1.5%
- Gross margin declined 133 bps against the most difficult comparison of the year
- Cautious volume commentary on Brazil (industry flat to down low-single versus prior view of low to mid-single digit growth)
Stepping back for a moment and looking at BUD within the context of the broader consumer staples group, we continue to struggle to find names that we are comfortable with over almost any duration given what we see as the currently stretched state of valuations. With BUD, we have good visibility on double digit EPS growth driven by continued strong pricing, merger synergies (eventually) and below the line items - even factoring in continued volume weakness. The company’s FCF yield (7%) remains attractive relative to the group. Based on that context, we are going to keep BUD on our preferred list. We expect a couple of European sell-side downgrades, just because that is how those analysts generally roll, but we think BUD continues to make sense once the impact of this quarter shakes out.
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HEDGEYE RISK MANAGEMENT, LLC