At the start of March, Anheuser-Busch InBev released its results for the 12 months of 2017. Sales in the year came in 5.1% up on 2016, with the fourth quarter jumping by 8.2%. Here, just-drinks breaks down A-B InBev's figures for the full-year by region.

Anheuser-Busch InBev 2017 - Sales versus 2016

2016 (Reference Base)2017
Fourth Quarter1420214600
Third Quarter1421014740
Second Quarter1345314182
First Quarter1207312922

Source: Company results

An incredibly strong final quarter gave A-B InBev an upbeat finish to the year. With sales in the three months to the end of December rising in organic terms (the figures in the chart are reported) by just over 8%, the brewer built on the growth reported in the prior three quarters - Q1 was up 3.7%, Q2 rose 5% and Q3 increased 3.6%.

A-B InBev will be hoping its end of year performance continues into 2018. Indeed, in its FY 2017 results announcement, the group said it "expects to continue to deliver strong revenue ... growth in FY18".

Anheuser-Busch InBev 2017 - Sales by Region

Source: Company results

Anheuser-Busch InBev 2017 - Volumes by Region

Source: Company results

  • North America - Sales -1.8%, volumes -3.3%
  • Latin America West - Sales +7.5%, volumes +1.6%
  • Latin America North - Sales +6.1%, volumes -0.3%
  • Latin America South - Sales +26.1%, volumes +5.9%
  • Europe, Middle East & Africa - Sales +6.3%, volumes +0.9%
  • Asia-Pacific - Sales +7.5%, volumes +0.5%

Country & Brand Highlights

With an estimated decline in industry sales-to-retailers last year of 1.4%, A-B InBev had a tougher time than most in the US, with its STRs down 3%. The group's sales-to-wholesalers in the country also fell, by 3.5%.

Consequently, US sales for the brewer in 2017 were down by 2%.

Michelob Ultra continues to do well, with volumes up by double-digits. Earlier this week, a new variant, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold, was launched in the country.

Stella Artois had a "solid" 2017 in the US, gaining share each quarter.

It was in the premium and premium light segments, however, where A-B InBev's US business struggled. Much as Budweiser saw "improved brand health", Bud Light "continues to face challenges", despite "encouraging signs" for the brand towards the end of the year.

Overall, in the US, the group said it was "not satisfied" with its performance. "We will continue to focus on expanding and reshaping our portfolio of brands to meet consumer needs across a wide spectrum of occasions."

In Mexico, meanwhile, sales were up by high-single-digits, with the group's "full brand portfolio" performing well. While Victoria and Corona both earned special mention, Bud Light also got a look-in, thanks to improved volumes in the country last year.

Sales growth in Colombia - +4.5% last year - was driven by the company's non-beer volumes, which were up by over 10%. Beer volumes in the country, however, were down by just over 4%, however, due to "a challenging macroeconomic environment" in the country, as well as a tough comparable in the first half of the year.

Brazil was the standout market for A-B InBev, with full-year sales increasing by 5.6%. Volumes in the country were flat, meaning the group's premium portfolio had a good 2017 in Brazil, "especially Budweiser". In the near-term, the country is likely to provide a "difficult first quarter" for the brewer, due to an earlier carnival and poor weather since the start of 2018.

Down in South Africa, the recent "seeding" of Budweiser helped push full-year sales for A-B InBev up 6%. High hopes were voiced for Castle Free, a zero alcohol beer launched in the country in the fourth quarter.

China grew sales by just over 7%, with the company's premiumisation strategy proving successful - volumes were up by only 1% in the country. "Our super premium portfolio, led by Corona, Hoegaarden and Franziskaner, accelerated its growth throughout the year, with volumes almost doubling versus last year," A-B InBev said. "We are now the market leader in all super-premium beer styles in China."

Eastern Europe was one of the few blots on the brewer's copybook. A low-single-digit dip in sales from the region in 2017 was blamed predominantly on "the ongoing headwind of the large PET ban in Russia", which took effect at the start of the year.

Finally, the UK shone in Western Europe, increasing sales in 2017 by double digits; not bad, for a heavily developed beer market.

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