Boston Beer (NYSE: SAM ) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2013 earnings on Tuesday, and the results failed to impress investors. Shares sank approximately 5% in after-hours trading.
However, the company still managed to grow at robust levels for the year, and all signs indicate that its product mix remains immensely popular. Since the company's disappointing performance was largely due to higher processing costs and operating expenses, the drop in share price presents investors with a nice buying opportunity.
Additionally, several other important aspects were revealed in the company's release, all of which make shares of Boston Beer very attractive on their current weakness. The stock is also a better growth investment than competitors like Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD ) and Molson Coors Brewing (NYSE: TAP ) .
Boston Beer managed to beat the revenue estimates for both the fourth quarter and full-year periods. The company's reported fourth-quarter revenue of $205.4 million, which represents year-over-year growth of approximately 34%, far exceeded the consensus estimate of $191 million. The company's full-year revenue of $739.1 million, which represents year-over-year growth of 27.4%, also beat the average analyst estimate of $727 million.
Boston Beer Chairman and Founder Jim Koch explained in the company's release, "Our growth is also attributable to strong sales execution and support from our distributors and retailers, as well as our great quality beers, innovation capability[,] and strong brands."
However, Boston Beer failed to impress on the earnings-per-share front. The company's fourth-quarter diluted earnings per share of $1.33 fell far short of analysts' estimates of $1.51. Earnings in the quarter only improved 6.4% on a comparable basis. Even for the full year, the company's earnings of $5.18 per share, which represented solid growth of 18%, still missed the consensus estimate of $5.39.
As was mentioned before, management made some key statements in its latest release, all of which indicate that the company's growth is more than intact. Martin Roper, president and CEO of Boston Beer, explained, "Over the past year, our supply chain struggled under the unexpected increased demand and we experienced higher operational and freight costs as we reacted."
This statement is incredibly important for two reasons. First, it explains the company's recent earnings slowdown and disappointment. Second, and more importantly, it means Boston Beer is seeing such robust demand for its products that it is having trouble simply keeping up with that demand. This is undeniably a positive, as the company should eventually be able to match demand.
Roper then explained how the company is arranging to do this; "In preparation for 2014, we have significantly increased our packaging and shipping capabilities, and our tank capacity at our [b]reweries, to address the opportunity and meet these challenges. Given the opportunities that we see, we expect a continued high level of brand investment and capital investment as we pursue growth and innovation."
Incredibly, it seems like Boston Beer could have grown revenue at an even faster pace in 2013 had its production capacity allowed. Once capacity meets demand, revenue growth should stabilize at higher levels, where it should have been all along.
One of the marks of a truly aggressive growth company is the sacrifice of short-term earnings power for the sake of viable long-term growth. This is exactly what management at Boston Beer is trying to do as it continues to invest in the aforementioned production-capacity improvements as well as robust advertising campaigns and the development/introduction of new product brands.
While it may be uncomfortable for investors in the near term, this aggressive strategy should work to preserve and possibly even improve the company's growth trajectory in the long term.
Compared to larger peers Anheuser-Busch InBev and Molson Coors Brewing, Boston Beer's growth is unrivaled. The following is a breakdown of all three companies' projected growth in 2014:
|Company||Revenue Growth 2014||EPS Growth 2014|
In addition to vastly superior growth, Boston Beer, with a market capitalization of only $3 billion, is also very much a buyout candidate, especially considering the sheer size of larger rivals like Anheuser-Busch and Molson Coors, with respective market caps of $164 billion and $10.5 billion.
Take a sip and buy the dip
All signs coming out of Boston Beer's recent earnings release show a company that is a victim only of its own success. Boston Beer is simply having trouble matching demand for its incredibly popular beverages. This is a problem that will not remain for long, as management is already well on its way to rectifying the situation.
While management works through the growth spurt, investors should wait patiently and use the sell-off to consider purchasing more shares for long-term growth. I plan on taking another sip of Boston Beer soon myself as the company appears to have many of the qualities of an ultimate growth stock.
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