Channel News Asia  Aug 8  Comment 
A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected an antitrust challenge by 23 beer drinkers to Anheuser-Busch InBev SA's US$107 billion purchase in 2016 of SABMiller Plc, which they claimed would thwart competition and raise prices in the U.S. beer...
Reuters  Mar 1  Comment 
Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest beer maker, reported higher profit than expected in the fourth quarter as Brazil rebounded and savings flowed in from its 2016 purchase of SABMiller.
Wall Street Journal  Oct 26  Comment 
Anheuser-Busch InBev bought SABMiller in a $103 billion deal that reshaped the global brewing industry. History is often cruel to mega-mergers, but with U.S. tastes shifting, SABMiller looks like it was worth every cent.
Financial Times  Oct 26  Comment 
Shares in world’s biggest brewer fall after third-quarter results miss expectations
MarketWatch  Feb 1  Comment 
Tobacco giant Altria Group Inc. said Wednesday it had net income of $10.276 billion, or $5.27 a share, in the fourth quarter, up from $1.248 billion, or 64 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Net earnings were boosted by special items,...
Reuters  Jan 6  Comment 
* Announces reference base following combination with Sabmiller
Motley Fool  Jan 5  Comment 
Avoiding a huge tax problem was the best possible result for the cigarette giant.
Financial Times  Dec 13  Comment 
Takeover of eastern European brewing assets add to Japanese group’s overseas push
Motley Fool  Dec 9  Comment 
The way the tobacco giant handled one key opportunity stood head and shoulders above the rest.


SABMiller Plc (LON: SAB), created by the merger of South Africa Brewery and Miller Brewery in 2002 and the subsequent merger with Bavaria Brewery in 2005, is the second largest brewing company in the world by volume, ranking behind only Anheuser-Busch InBev (EBR:ABI). The company operates breweries in 40 countries worldwide, with distribution to an additional 20 countries. Currently, SABMiller is seeking to grow by increasing its presence in growing markets and by capitalizing on a shift to premium beer in established markets.

In addition to beer, SABMiller is one of the largest bottlers of Coca-Cola Company (KO), with soft drinks accounting for just over 10% of its sales.

Since beer is often substitutable with other alcoholic beverages, demand for SABMiller's products can be sensitive to the popularity of wines and spirits. With its wide range of beer brands, the company is safe with respect to shifts in demand for types of beer (premium, value, etc). Recently, the increasing costs of barley, aluminum, and carbon dioxide, all critical inputs into SABMiller's production process, have driven up overall production costs for the company.

Company Overview

SABMiller's beer brands include Pilsner Urquell, Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Miller Genuine Draftand Grolsch, as well as leading local brands such as Aguila, Castle, Miller Lite, Snow and Tyskie. SABMiller is also one of the world largest bottlers of Coca-Cola products.

Business and Financial Metrics

Fiscal 2010 Results[1]

SABMiller reported lager volumes of 213 million hectolitres during fiscal 2010, in line with the prior year on an organic basis. Total group revenue was up 4% and EBITA (earnings before interest, taxes, and amortization) was up 6% with margin growth of 30 basis points driven by robust pricing and cost efficiencies. SABMiller's EBITA increased in all regions except Asia. Latin America delivered strong EBITA growth of 17% through pricing and cost productivity. Solid pricing and cost management in Europe drove EBITA growth of 4% despite lower volumes. Cost synergies delivered EBITA growth of 7% in North America. Resilient lager volume growth in Africa led to EBITA growth of 4%

SABMiller's adjusted EPS was up 17% with operating performance enhanced by lower finance costs and a reduced tax rate.


SABMiller owns over 200 brands of beer and produces over 17.5 billion liters of lager annually. A few of the most popular brands produced by SABMiller include:

  • Castle Lager
  • Miller Genuine Draft
  • Peroni Nastro Azzurro
  • Pilsner Urquell

By selling a number of independent brands in a single market, SABMiller is able to capitalize on shifts in demand between different classes of beer, such as value, premium, and ultra-premium brands. In addition to beer, SABMiller is also one of the largest bottlers of Coca-Cola products in the world, producing 4.5 billion liters of non-lager beverages such as Coca-Cola, Minute Made, Sprite, and Crystal.

Geographical Presence


Trends and Forces

Growing Markets

Economic growth in Latin America

As the economies of Latin American countries become increasingly stable, disposable income is rising, which is leading to an increase in per capita beer consumption. The average annual beer consumption in Latin American countries of 20-40 liters is much lower than in the US and Western Europe, where the average person drinks 80 and 70 liters per year, respectively. The stable GDP growth forecasted for the region bodes well for SABMiller, as demand for beer is likely to rise along with income. The company is responding to this trend, investing more heavily in the region to take advantage of the large growth potential. By 2012, SABMiller will invest $1.8 billion to develop its production and distribution infrastructure in South America, where the company predicts sales will grow 8% per year.

Economic growth in China

China is one of the world's fastest growing economies. While it currently has the 4th largest nominal GDP, at $2.68 trillion, China's per capita GDP is $2,034, or 105th in the world. This is changing rapidly, however, with per capita GDP growing at an astonishingly fast rate. The rapid economic growth has led to a dramatic reduction in poverty from 53% in 1981 to 10% in 2004. This strong economic growth, reduction of poverty, and the rise of China's middle class have made China the fastest-growing beer market in the world. Since SABMiller's initial investment in China in 1994, it has grown to control 15% of the market, making it the leading brewer in the country. SABMiller's growth in China has been largely inorganic, with the company acquiring several local breweries, notably the purchase of Blue Sword Brewery in 2001. The Chinese beer market surpassed the U.S. market in 2005 to become the largest in the world, with an annual consumption of 30 billion liters. In 2006, China alone accounted for 18% of SABMiller's beer volume but only 5% of its profits due to lower margins than in other regions.


Costs of Production

Cost of Aluminum

The rising cost of aluminum in the U.S. has recently cut into SABMiller’s profits in the region. The increased cost of production, along with increasing competition from imported brews, caused North American earnings to fall 17% in 2006. Thus, rises in the cost of aluminum could adversely hurt profits in the future.

The Cost of Barley

In the short term, barley prices are susceptible to weather conditions such as droughts, which may be affected by global climate change. In the long term, barley could become increasingly scarcer as demand for biofuels such as ethanol increases; some farmland traditionally used for barley production is being used to grow corn and other crops that are used in the production of these biofuels. Any shortage of barley will drive driving up prices. In fact, average barley prices have risen 17% since the beginning of 2007.

The Cost of Carbon Dioxide

In 2007, PetroSA, the leading producer of carbon dioxide in South Africa, closed for planned maintenance, but it remained closed for longer than was anticipated. On top of that, the carbon dioxide stored by PetroSA in anticipation of the closure was contaminated, greatly decreasing the carbon dioxide supply throughout South Africa and driving prices significantly higher. In March 2007, SABMiller announced plans to invest 100 million South African rand (roughly $14 million USD) to construct its own carbon dioxide production facilities in the country.

Discount vs. Premium Brands

Individual markets often experience shifts in demand between different qualities of beer. For example, in the past few years the US market has been shifting away from the middle-tier premium brands, favoring both lower-cost discount brands and more expensive ultra-premium brands. In contrast, the South African market is currently shifting away from the historically dominant discount segment towards newer, more expensive premium brands. These changing demands are the result of several factors, including changes in disposable income and economic development, as well as marketing and the social appeal of different brands.



The three major types of alcoholic beverages – beer, wine, and spirits – act as substitutes, with increasing demand for one often accompanied by decreasing demand for one or both of the others. These shifts in demand between different alcoholic beverages are often fluid and unique to individual markets. For example, over the last 20 years, wine consumption in Britain has increased by 180%, spirits consumption has been relatively steady, and beer consumption fell (though recent trends show a slight rise in beer consumption, particularly among premium and ultra-premium brands). On the other hand, Chinese beer consumption has grown 62% in the past 5 years, whereas wine and spirit consumption has remained constant. In the U.S., per capita wine consumption is increasing, while beer is decreasing, and spirits are holding steady. These often region-specific shifts can greatly impact SABMiller's performance in any one market.


Over the past 15 years, the brewing industry has been rapidly consolidating. The five largest brewing companies were responsible for only 17% of global beer sales in the early 1990s, whereas they account for 45% today. SABMiller’s two largest competitors are currently InBev and Anheuser-Busch, the first- and third-largest brewing companies in the world (by volume), respectively. Anheuser-Busch, the most profitable of the three, derives 76% of its revenue from the United States, though it has recently been expanding into China and Latin America through acquisitions of local breweries. In contrast, no single country accounts for more than a third of SABMiller’s revenue. Like SABMiller, InBev has geographically diverse operations, though its largest market is Latin America, which accounts for 38% of its revenue.

Key Operating Metrics
Metrics Anheuser-Busch Molson Coors InBev NV SABMiller
Revenue per barrel (USD) $143.20 $137.57 $85.35 $102.00
Barrels sold (in millions) 125 41.2 210 150
Cost per barrel (USD) $80.80 $57.50 $34.81 n/a
Gross margin per barrel (USD) $62.40 $80.07 $50.54 n/a
Barrels per Employee 5,169 4,429 5,494 2,790

Market Share
Region SABMiller Anheuser-Busch InBev NV Molson Coors
United States 23% 48.4% 1.1% 11%
United Kingdom 6.9% 3% 19% 21.1%
Worldwide 11% 11.5% 14% 3.8%


  1. SABMiller 2010 Annual Report
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