Sector Snap: Alcoholic beverage companies mixed

Analyst: Worse-than-expected economic conditions, weather weighing on brewers and distillers

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of brewers and distillers were mixed on Friday after an analyst said that economic conditions, weather and foreign currency rates have all been worse than expected in developed and emerging markets.

Mark Swartzberg of Stifel Nicolaus said in a client note that sales volume for Anheuser-Busch InBev in North America is declining more than expected. The brewer is also contending with lower volume in Brazil.

The analyst said that part of the reason the company's stock has experienced softness recently is because of concerns about Brazil, as well as foreign currency translation. But Swartzberg considers this a chance for investors to purchase the stock, citing its long-term earnings power and likelihood for slowly improving volume trends in Brazil. He kept a "Buy" rating and $112 price target.

Shares of Anheuser-Busch InBev fell 89 cents to $89.15 in afternoon trading amid mixed trading for the broader markets.

Swartzberg said that industry data shows low-to-mid single-digit volume declines for beer in North America, while European volumes continue to be hurt by economic conditions and poor weather.

Distillers fared somewhat better. Swartzberg said there is continuing strength in North America for Brown-Forman Corp., the parent of Jack Daniel's, and the "Buy"-rated brand also has "exceptional growth potential" elsewhere in the world. He raised his estimates for Beam Inc., which makes rival Jim Beam whiskey, based on positive financing developments for the company, and kept a "Buy" rating.

And the analyst stuck with Constellation Brands Inc., brewer of Corona, Modelo and other beers, along with a host of wine brands led by Robert Mondavi and spirits including Svedka Vodka, as having the best risk/reward balance for investors in the group. He kept the stock with a "Buy" rating and $64 price target.

Here's how some alcoholic beverage companies are faring in trading:

Molson Coors Brewing Co. shed 3 cents to $48.53.

Constellation Brands Inc. slipped 3 cents to $51.84.

Beam Inc. rose 18 cents to $63.29.

Brown-Forman Corp. declined 39 cents to $68.01.

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