Bud Goes Flat

After churning out double-digit earnings per share quarter after quarter, Anheuser-Busch – known worldwide for producing Budweiser and Bud Light – is coming up flat as it struggles to defend its market share against rival Miller and increasing consumer pressure from wine and distilled spirits.

This week the St. Louis-based company warned that its profit outlook for the year would be lower on weaker-than-expected U.S. beer volume in the first quarter. Cutting its earnings forecast for the second time since February, Anheuser-Busch said its 2005 profit would grow in the low single digits.

Patrick Stokes, Anheuser-Busch’s president and CEO, said that while the company has stepped up its new product, packaging and marketing efforts, “it will take time for these new initiatives to gain traction.”

In February, Anheuser-Busch nationally launched Budweiser Select, a low-carb, low-calorie cousin of Budweiser. A month earlier, it rolled out B-to-the-E to go head-to-head with classic mixed drinks