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Fitch Ratings said yesterday that it had initiated coverage of Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. (ABCI) with an 'A+' credit rating for its senior unsecured debt, which includes the company's bank facility, notes, debentures, Euro notes, and medium-term notes.

Fitch also has  an 'F1' short-term credit rating that includes ABCI's existing commercial paper program. This rating action affects approximately US$7.7 billion of debt at ABCI. The Rating Outlook is Stable.

"The ABCI rating reflects the company's leading market share in the mature US beer industry, strong brand names, solid operating margins, and substantial cash flow generation. These positive factors are weighed against ABCI's increasing amount of corporate debt that has been incurred to financed share repurchases, the highly competitive nature of the beer industry, global consolidation, and consumer trends favoring low-carbohydrate and healthy products," a statement from Fitch said.
 
It added that ABCI benefits from its leading position in the US.

"Margins have steadily improved over the past 10 years due to the company's brand recognition, marketing capabilities, economies of scale, and efficient distribution system," it said.


Sectors: Beer & cider

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