AB InBev Hikes Dividend, But No New Share Buyback

By Reuters
Share this article
AB InBev Hikes Dividend, But No New Share Buyback

Anheuser-Busch InBev has raised its annual dividend by 9%, though analysts warned investors may be disappointed by the absence of a new share buyback and worse-than-expected U.S. sales.

Investors in the world's largest brewer are hungry for returns after years of focus on debt reduction as AB InBev tried to pay off an acquisition spree.

That spree built it into a global beer behemoth, but also left it with debts of over $100 billion (€92.26 billion) that it struggled to reduce as quickly as hoped, limiting its ability to return cash to shareholders.

Now, it is increasingly looking to reward their patience. It said it had reduced debts by a further $1.8 billion (€1.66 billion), to stand at $78.1 billion (€72 billion) at the end of last year.

'As a result, we have additional flexibility in our capital allocation choices,' the company said.


Share Buyback

The dividend increase comes after AB InBev announced a rare share buyback plan in October, boosting its shares. Some investors may be disappointed the buyback programme has not been renewed, Edward Mundy, analyst at Jefferies, wrote in a note.

James Edwardes Jones, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, added that volume declines in the United States were also worse than expected, though overall the results were "good enough".

US Beer Sales

AB InBev's sales in its hefty U.S. business have been hit by a consumer boycott of key U.S. brand Bud Light, knocking it off its top spot as the best-selling U.S. beer.

The company's U.S. beer volumes slumped by 15.3% in the fourth quarter.


AB InBev reported a 6.2% rise in fourth-quarter sales versus analysts' expectations of 6.1% in a consensus estimate provided by the company.

It forecast 2024 core profits to grow in line with its medium-term outlook of 4% to 8%.

Get the week's top grocery retail news

The most important stories from European grocery retail direct to your inbox every Thursday

Processing your request...

Thanks! please check your email to confirm your subscription.

By signing up you are agreeing to our terms & conditions and privacy policy. You can unsubscribe at any time.