During their recent earnings call, Anheuser-Busch InBev (A-B) leadership informed investors that Bud Light’s collaboration with a transgender influencer in April continues to impact sales. However, they mentioned that a $1 billion stock buyback and a new UFC sponsorship deal are positively influencing the company’s overall outlook.
A-B announced a buyback program that will occur within the next 12 months, set to begin almost immediately, according to CFO Fernando Tennenbaum. In the third quarter, A-B InBev experienced a 5% increase in global revenue, reaching $15.6 billion. However, U.S. revenue declined by over 13% due to lower Bud Light sales. CEO Michel Doukeris expressed confidence in the company’s recovery, stating that they have a good understanding of their next steps.
Doukeris shared that a recent survey revealed over 40% of former Bud Light drinkers expressed a readiness to return to consuming Bud Light. The brand faced a significant sales drop this year after consumers called for a boycott following the collaboration with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Modelo Especial surpassed Bud Light as America’s top-selling beer during the summer, ending Bud Light’s two-decade reign.
Doukeris highlighted Bud Light’s multiyear sponsorship of the UFC, emphasizing A-B’s commitment to investing in the U.S. for the long term. He believes the partnership aligns well with Bud Light’s brand. Doukeris also mentioned that customers are returning to brands like Busch Light and Michelob Ultra, alongside Bud Light, and expects these beers to regain their previous trajectory before April.
However, according to Dave “Bump” Williams of Bump Williams Consulting, who specializes in the alcoholic beverage industry, Bud Light’s situation has not significantly changed since April. Williams stated that consumer trends have remained relatively stable, with no notable week-to-week improvements. He believes it will be challenging to recover all of Bud Light’s lost drinkers, both before and after April, as some have permanently shifted preferences.