A-B Bullish on Beer Market

Anheuser-Busch is bullish on the beer industry.

A-B vice president and chief financial officer W. Randolph Baker told investors and analysts in New York City Thursday that the beer annual shipment volume grew 2.1 percent in 2006, the best annual performance since 1990. In 2007, industry growth is estimated to be 1.8 percent, exceeding prior expectations, Baker said.

In good news for craft brewers, who are raising prices due to higher hop and barley costs, A-B stated that they have had successful price increases in several states in the fourth quarter and plans to continue to implement price increases in early 2008.

Likewise, Miller Brewing Company’s earnings for the six-month period ended Sept. 30 increased 19 percent because of price increases and higher volumes, its parent company said earlier this month.

Miller’s total sales to retailers grew by 1.4 percent for the six-month period, excluding brands acquired since last year, and by 5.9 percent overall, including acquisitions.

A-B said its market share in the United States rose to 48.8 percent in the third quarter from 48.7 percent last year.