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Just a coupla weeks ago, looked like ABI-SAB might get earlier-than-expected approval from South African Competition Commission as it signaled it would finish up by tomorrow’s deadline (see Mar 22 Express).  Turns out tho “the assessment of the transaction is unlikely to be completed by April 5 as previously anticipated,” a spokesman for the commission said over the weekend.  Instead, the commission will make its 3d extension request, reports Business Day, a South African publication.  No one’s talking about what the “outstanding issues” are, but AB InBev and SABMiller are aware of them, the spokesman also said.  Meanwhile, the European Commission “has set an initial phase 1 deadline to rule on the deal,” BD reported, without stating the deadline.  And the US Justice Dept continues to evaluate ABI-SAB.  

Publishing Info

  • Year 2016
  • Volume 18
  • Issue # 62
Delving deep into ABI’s public filings, turns out that the co has performance-based incentive for execs if it hits ambitious internal revenue target of $100 billion in 2020, reported WSJ.  That’s right, $100 billion.  The number appears in annual report issued in mid-March and an SEC document going back to Dec; in annual report, it’s revealed as part of a new performance-based incentive plan.  To get to $100 bil would be more than a 50% increase from what a combined ABI-SAB would have had last yr in just 5 yrs. Combined ABI-SAB revs at about $66 bil last yr, but there will be divestitures in order to get deal done.   It’s “a real stretch,” wrote WSJ.  “Very difficult to see them achieving that [$100 billion target] without M&A,” Stifel’s Mark Swartzberg told WSJ, adding that this incentive “would further speculation” that ABI could pursue Coke, Diageo, or brewers in Africa or Asia.  If ABI does hit target, “the performance plan could conservatively yield more than $350 million,” noted WSJ, to 65 senior managers, not including ABI’s executive management board. It’s called the “2020 Dream Incentive Plan,” said ABI spokeswoman and is part of an “internal stretch target” and not official…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2016
  • Volume 18
  • Issue # 61
With FMBs now fastest-growing segment in malt bevs – volume up 16.5%, $$ up 20.5% thru Mar 20 in IRI multi-outlet + convenience – no surprise that the brand which basically created category is attempting to plug in to more of that growth.  Meet Smirnoff Ice Electric, rolling out now and already on shelves in some mkts. It’s a “premium malt beverage with natural flavors and certified color.”  Electric debuted in two flavors, Mandarin and Berry; former looks like apple juice, latter looks like one of the Gatorade Frost flavors.  Coupla other interesting features: Electric imported from Canada, non-carbonated, packaged in PET and both cap and label feature phrase “Must be 21+ to Purchase.”  Label also includes phrase “contains beverage alcohol,” address for Diageo’s responsible drinking website (DRINKiQ.com) and has “Serving Facts” label that Diageo worked for over decade to get TTB clearance. “We wanted to make it crystal clear” that Electric is for adults, Heather Boyd, DGUSA’s brand director for FMBs told us.  Serving Facts include serving size (12 oz, tho pkg is a pint), servings/container (1.3), ABV (5%), fl oz of alcohol (0.6), calories (214), carbs (30.6), fats/proteins (0).  DGUSA’s “Fix the Mix” Strategy; Leveraging Smirnoff Trademark Electric…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2016
  • Volume 18
  • Issue # 61
With 11 new SKUs that have entered the alc soda segment (and counting), it’s “our job to stay in front of the curve” and “bring innovation,” said Small Town prexy Greig DeBow at Pabst mtg last week.  Small Town still has “dominant” 46% share of alc sodas, despite changing landscape, he pointed out.  But it also has “solid innovation platform to move this needle forward” with 10.7% root beer variant, Vanilla Cream ale and Variety pk comin’ later this yr.  And Small Town has “several really cool innovation platforms” coming in 2017, he assured, tho not ready to share quite yet.  “We’ve  got to innovate, we’ve got to come to market quickly and we’ve got to execute.”  Greig’s main asks of distribs: increase distribution, have in-store presence “with the look of a leader,” and “aggressively invest joint marketing dollars to grow the brand.”  “Let’s keep the ride alive!” Asked separately about how Pabst and co expect to match gargantuan launch of Not Your Father’s Root Beer, Pabst ceo Eugene Kaspher told INSIGHTS that he expects  new varieties to be “kicking a--” while competitors brands already will be “coming off the shelf” by end of the yr.  Admittedly NYFRB “lost the…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2016
  • Volume 18
  • Issue # 76
Volume declines for Sam Adams and Angry Orchard continued throughout 1st qtr for Boston Beer so total depletions down 5% for 13 wks thru Mar 26. Shipments down slightly steeper 6% to 834,000 bbls. That was “significantly below our expectations,” ceo Martin Roper said in release, so Boston lowered its full-yr depletions guidance to between -4% and +2%, from “mid-singles” increase. Twisted Tea and Coney Island still growing, but didn’t quite offset declines from bigger brand families. Boston “working hard to improve the Samuel Adams brand trends,” while it creates “programs to reverse the cider category decline,” as execs believe Angry Orchard softness “largely” due to total category difficulty, according to Martin. That could be result of drinkers “testing hard sodas and other new alternative beverage options.” Unsaid, but Boston clearly working in those alternative categories too. Further, volume hit came at same time as increased spending and lower capacity usage which “significantly impacted our financial results for the quarter.” Boston revs took 5% hit too to $202 mil, while both oper income cut almost in half. Gross margin down 1.5 pts to 48.5% compared 50% in 1st qtr 2015, and Boston lowered full-yr guidance there too: now at 51-53%.…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2016
  • Volume 18
  • Issue # 75
INSIGHTS surprised to discover that Craft Bev Modernization and Tax Reform Act, the joint tax reform bill that would lower brewers’, vintners’ and distillers’ taxes, actually came close to passing recently.  But that’s scenario that developed, sources say, amidst all the negotiating that went into passing budget for 2016. It “was on the table for inclusion in the tax bill until very late in the process,” wrote Beer Inst prexy Jim McGreevy in Letter from Washington yesterday.  Notable that it got so far down the road.  Stay tuned.  

Publishing Info

  • Year 2015
  • Volume 17
  • Issue # 205