Consumer Edge’s Brett Cooper not hootin’ and hollerin’, but his “deep dive into recent trends” this morn offered a slightly brighter perspective…. Brett sees “somewhat improved volume and price outlook relative to Q1, but still challenging.” In fact, “front line pricing showing some improvement off of late 2016/early 2017 lows,” sez Brett. Pointed to MC pricing “which has rebounded from flat at the turn of the year to up slightly less in the last 7 weeks.” Then too, and related, subpremium pricing “back to flat,” again lookin’ at 7-wk period. Throw in high debt loads carried by both ABI and MC, ABI’s announced capex spend and fact that aggressive pricing in past hasn’t driven sustained volume growth and Brett sees “a continued rational pricing environment.” Volumes remain soft, Brett acknowledges, but he sez biz “getting to a better place with respect to efficiency with SKU counts down and velocities improving,” which should help brewers, distribs and retailers alike. But will it help overall volume? At same time, AB and MC mkt share trends “generally stable,” tho both still down. Missing from Brett’s topline: strong reasons to believe in an improved volume outlook going forward, other than that the one-offs which drove tuff Q1 won’t repeat. Indeed, Brett cites c-store weakness as “a particular concern.” So, “somewhat improved” seems to be operative phrase here.
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