Alcohol consumption is on the rise -- and that means alcohol companies will see similar increases in revenue. "Global alcohol consumption grew at a compounded annual growth rate of 1.9% between 2007 and 2012, according to Euromonitor data. It forecasts 2.8% annual growth through 2017," writes Investor's Business Daily -- and most of that growth is coming from China and the U.S.
While consumption in Europe is relatively flat, "consumption in China, with its rapidly growing economy and middle class, surged 5.8% per year over the past five years. Forecasters see continued 5.6% growth over the next five years there. In the U.S., the No. 2 market overall, consumption declined 0.9% per year. The forecasts call for modest 0.8% growth over the next five years, according to the data."
The trend is apparent and easy to play to advantage. Just look at the top drinks companies. Each of the following three companies has shown significant growth, carries high expectations going forward, and is currently involved in developing strategies to dominate the market.
Anheuser-Busch Inbev (NYSE:BUD) has been posting operating income growth of roughly 28% per annum over the past 10 years and, while maintaining growth at that rate is not likely, there is no reason to think things are going to slow down too much. According to Forbes, Anheuser-Busch Inbev "should produce double-digit earnings growth over the next three years while improving its free cash flow and buying back shares." The stock is currently trading at $97.76 a share but analysts give the stock a one-year target estimate of $110.53. Add to this a 1.5% dividend yield and the return is nearly 15%.
SABMiller (OTCPK:SBMRY) is currently trading at $55.86 with a one-year price target of $60 per share -- a return of over 7%. This may be less than its rivals, but SABMiller has a lot to look forward to. SABMiller subsidiary Miller Brewing Company is ending its license agreement with Molson Coors Canada (NYSE:TAP) in order to grow its own brands more effectively in Canada. "We see Canada as a country with a rich tradition of beer appreciation and believe we can better serve Canadians needs through this transition," said Miller's managing director for Canada, Paul Gurr. Going forward, analysts expect the company to grow at a rate of 10.9% in 2014, topping the projected industry average of 10.1%. The company also carries a 5-year average EPS growth of 19.2% and a 5-year average dividend growth of 12.7%.
Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ) recently hit a new 52-week high of $50.59 on enthusiasm after the company finalized U.S. rights to Mexican brands Corona and Negra Modelo, making for a year-to-date return of over 33%. While Constellation Brands is trading high right now, at $50.24 a share and 23.94 times its earnings, analysts are encouraged. The company has a one-year target estimate of $56.45, which would make for a projected return of over 12%. With the new acquisition and the company's collection of well-known brands, the future for Constellation Brands is promising.
While each of these three companies could make a good long position, Anheuser-Busch Inbev and SABMiller are in a better position to profit from increased alcohol consumption. Between the two, they "own more than 200 brands based in 42 countries (including 18 in the U.S. alone)," including 17 brands in China and some of the top brands in the U.S., including Budweiser, Coors Light, Michelob, Miller and Rolling Rock. However, Constellation Brands could still come full circle with the U.S. rights to Corona and Negra Modelo, and with its high analyst expectations, the company is equally worth the wager.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.