Optimism among US spirits wholesalers has dipped a little

Optimism among US spirits wholesalers has dipped a little

The number of spirits wholesalers in the US who are optimistic about the future has fallen in the last three months, according to a recent survey.

Only 50% of the wholesalers polled by UBS Global in March said that they feel optimistic about the spirits market in the US. The quarterly survey, which has been running since late-2009, found that, in December last year, 53% of wholesalers were upbeat about their business.

The slight dip is still higher than the level of optimism recorded in each quarterly survey since June 2010.

"Wholesalers may be slightly more cautious on the market outlook than spirits companies themselves, as consumer confidence indicators have been very volatile, wholesalers’ confidence outlook may be more focused on volume than value growth, and volume growth has moderated due to higher industry focus on pricing," said UBS in its survey findings earlier this week.

The analyst noted that most spirits companies had reported "continued strength" in the US in their Q1 results. Yesterday, Beam Inc reported that North America, the US in particular had driven net profits growth in the three months to the end of March.

"We leave unchanged (2013 estimates) at +2% volume and +4.5% value growth (for the US spirits market)," UBS added.

Citing Nielsen figures from the end of March, UBS noted that all spirits channels are showing “clear evidence” of improving price/mix. “This is a function of dialled-back promotional activity and headline price increases coming through since Q2 2012,” the company said.

Responses to the UBS survey cover around 10% of US spirits wholesalers covering both the on- and off-trade.

Of the major spirits producers, UBS estimates that Beam Inc is the most exposed to the US, with around 52% of EBITDA coming from the country. Pernod Ricard is the least exposed, with 19% EBITDA hailing from the country. Brown-Forman (49%), Diageo (38%), Remy Cointreau (33%) and Gruppo Campari (24%) are also heavily present in the US.