Current Price: € 43.05
Target Price: € 47.00
AB InBev will publish its 1Q11 results on 4 May before market. Heavy rainfall in Brazil and a still sluggish US beer market will probably lead to fairly uninspiring volume growth – we forecast +1.7% y/y – but continued strong pricing power and revenue per hl growth ahead of cost inflation should in our opinion once again lead to solid results. AB InBev remains the world's beer industry leader, not only in terms of absolute size, but also in terms of profit margins and FCF generation thanks to the strong market positions in very profitable beer markets like the US and Brazil.
The balance sheet has been strengthened significantly in the past few years and net debt/EBITDA is now guided to fall below 2.0x as early as end 2012, which means very soon there will be significant headroom for acquisitions or significantly higher dividend pay-outs. We continue to rate AB InBev as Accumulate with an unchanged target price of € 47.
Guidance reminder. AB InBev did not issue precise guidance for 1Q11 or FY11. For the full year, AB InBev hinted at a mid to high single-digit increase in marketing spend and a low single-digit increase in cost of sales per hl. Strong pricing should however offset the higher cost of sales per hl. FY11 savings should be at least $270m. Volume comparables were hinted to be tough for the first quarter due to heavy rainfall in Brazil and persistently high unemployment amongst core (low-income) consumers in the US.
Our 1Q forecasts. We forecast volumes to increase by 1.7% in 1Q11 (4Q10: +1.4% organically, FY10: +2.1% organically) to 93.4m hl which is close to the consensus forecast of 93.16m hl. Driven by solid revenue per hl growth – which was up an impressive +6% in 4Q10 –we expect revenue to rise by 8.7% to $9,050m in 1Q11. The solid pricing power and some remaining AB-integration savings are expected to push the EBITDA margin up by 50 bps to 37.6%, yielding an overall increase in Normalized EBITDA of 10.2% to $3,400m (cons $3,423m).