Boston Beer Shares Plunged: What You Need to Know

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of craft-beer brewer Boston Beer (NYSE: SAM  ) were looking a bit hung over today, losing as much as 11% in intraday trading after reporting first-quarter results.

So what: After the market's close yesterday, Boston Beer revealed first-quarter earnings. Today, investors reacted with a decided thumbs-down. Net revenue for the quarter climbed 9% to $102 million and beat Wall Street's target. However, earnings per share fell 36% versus last year and badly missed analysts' $0.45 estimate. The profit shortfall was driven by increases in operating expenses, which were a result of a variety of initiatives by the company, including increased marketing and promotional spending and personnel additions.

Now what: Despite the soft first-quarter profit, the company maintained its full-year earnings-per-share guidance of between $3.45 and $3.95. Analysts' average estimate for the year is currently $3.81, so we could see them bring that down closer to the midpoint of management's range. Overall though, the results of the quarter don't seem as worrisome to me as the stock's drop suggests. It's also notable that the March-ending quarter tends to be a seasonally softer one for the company. 

However, what today's drop may underscore is the that investors have high expectations for Boston Beer. With the stock currently trading at 22 times the midpoint of management's 2011 guidance, there's certainly room for the company to report solid results and still disappoint optimistic shareholders. Of course, as a recommendation at Motley Fool Stock Advisor and a real-money holding at Motley Fool Hidden Gems, there are more than a few folks in Fooldom who think the current price is well justified by the company's potential.

Want to keep up to date on Boston Beer? Add it to your watchlist.

Boston Beer is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor choice. The Fool owns shares of Boston Beer. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.         

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer has no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool or on his RSS feed. The Fool's disclosure policy prefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.


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