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Anheuser-Busch has reiterated its 2005 earnings per share outlook. The brewer said today (25 May) that it believes it will restore volume momentum through new product, packaging and marketing programs.

Speaking at the 2005 BUD Investor Conference, Anheusr-Busch Cos president and CEO Patrick Stokes said: "We expect significant improvement in domestic beer sales and profit performance in the second half of this year and continue to target double-digit earnings per share growth over the long-term."

"To stimulate growth, we have identified four critical marketing priorities," added August Busch IV, president of Anheuser-Busch, Inc. "First, while beer is America's favourite beverage with 58% of overall alcohol servings, we must continue to improve the image and desirability of beer. Second, we must keep beer fun and social. Third, we must grow beer occasions and, fourth, we must continue to improve our retail execution."

Busch also took a look at the launch of Budweiser Select this year. Since its national introduction in late February, the brand has achieved a 1.9% share in supermarkets according to IRI scanner data. Budweiser Select has been a key contributor to the improving trend in the company's overall market share performance that is evident at the retail level, AB said.

While the domestic beer company has increased tactical price promotions this year on a specific market, brand and package basis to reduce price premiums versus competition, company executives confirmed that the company's long-term pricing strategy continues to target increases at or slightly below the consumer price index.

Looking abroad, Stephen J. Burrows, chief executive officer and president of Anheuser-Busch International, Inc., said that, since 1999, the international segment has contributed 28% of AB's consolidated earnings growth, driven primarily by the company's 50% investment in Grupo Modelo in Mexico. Looking to the future, AB said that it has built an excellent platform for growth in China. AB and its partners now account for 45m barrels of beer volume in China and together have a 19% share of the market.

"Our earnings outlook for 2005 has not changed," concluded W. Randolph Baker, vice president and chief financial officer. "We expect earnings per share to grow in the low-single digit percent range this year, excluding one- time gains.

"We expect domestic sales-to-wholesalers and earnings per share to decline in the second quarter but forecast sales and earnings growth to resume in the second half of the year as our marketing initiatives gain traction with consumers and year over year comparisons ease. Over the long- term, we expect to achieve our double-digit earnings per share growth objective."


Sectors: Beer & cider

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