AB InBev sets first profit growth target under new director

The logo of Anheuser-Busch InBev is pictured outside the brewer’s headquarters in Leuven, Belgium, February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo GLOBAL BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD/File Photo

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  • Aims for core earnings growth of 4% to 8% over the period 2022-2025
  • Focus on increasing sales with premium brands and non-beer products
  • Also considering pushing online sales, switching to plant-based proteins

BRUSSELS, Dec 6 (Reuters) – New management at Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR) set the company’s first profit target on Monday, forecasting core profit growth of 4% to 8% over the the next four years based on increasing beer sales and expanding into other beverages and even food.

Michel Doukeris, who has been chief executive of the world’s biggest brewer since July 1, told Reuters ahead of an investor seminar on Monday that the beer market had grown over the past four years, despite a false narrative that it was not developing.

Beer is also expected to grow its alcohol market share over the next four years at the expense of wine and spirits, according to Euromonitor forecasts, he said.

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AB InBev, which sells one in four beers sold globally, stands to benefit from this growth and accelerate it by pushing more expensive “premium” beers, Doukeris said, promoting non-beer products such as seltzers and canned wines and cocktails, and selling more online.

The group will also take a closer look at barley brewing by-products such as protein and fiber, which were now sold “almost for free”, but could be incorporated into plant-based foods.

Doukeris, formerly head of sales for AB InBev and its North American business, replaced fellow Brazilian Carlos Brito, who made the brewer the world’s biggest for 15 years at the helm.

Brito has driven growth through acquisitions and cost savings. His successor is more focused on increasing sales of more than 500 brands, including seven of the world’s top 10 beers, in an already concentrated market.

Over the 10-year period from 2010 to 2019, AB InBev’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased by an average of 7.3% and then fell by 2.4% in 2020, hit by the pandemic. The Belgium-based company plans 10%-12% expansion this year.

Its “organic” EBITDA growth objective eliminates the impact of currency fluctuations when translating the results of foreign operations, as well as acquisitions and divestitures.

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Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Louise Heavens, Jason Neely and Jan Harvey

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