Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE:BUD) reported its second-quarter financial results on Thursday, and the global beer titan delivered solid profit growth, bolstered by robust sales of its premium brands.

Anheuser-Busch InBev results: The raw numbers

Metric

Q2 2018

Q2 2019

Change

Revenue

$14 billion

$14 billion

0%

Normalized profit

$2.2 billion

$2.5 billion

14%

Normalized EPS

$1.09

$1.25

15%

Data source: Anheuser-Busch InBev Q2 2019 earnings release (link opens PDF). Normalized profit adjusts for non-recurring items and discontinued operations.

What happened this quarter?

AB InBev's total volumes rose 2.1% to more than 146 million hectoliters. This was the company's best volume growth in over five years. Moreover, price increases and strong sales of higher-priced brands pushed revenue per hectoliter up by 4.2%. Together, this helped to drive AB InBev's revenue higher by 6.2% on an organic basis.

Notably, AB InBev's three global beer brands -- Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois -- delivered revenue growth of 8%, including 11.3% growth outside of their home markets.

Two people tapping beer bottles

Image source: Getty Images.

The company's profitability also improved during the quarter. Normalized earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) increased 9.4% on an organic basis, as EBITDA margin expanded by 123 basis points, to 42%.

Cost reductions contributed to the earnings gains. AB InBev says that, as of the end of Q2, it had captured nearly all of the $3.2 billion in synergies and cost savings it targeted as part of its merger with SABMiller back in 2016.

Looking forward 

Anheuser-Busch InBev continues to make progress with its deleveraging plan. The beer king's net-debt-to-normalized-EBITDA ratio dipped to 4.58 from 4.61 at the end of 2018 -- and management is targeting a ratio below 4 by the end of 2020. AB InBev plans use the proceeds from its $11 billion sale of its Australian business to help reach this goal. 

However, AB InBev is holding off on its plan to list a stake in its Asian operations on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Some analysts believe that a stock sale could raise approximately $10 billion for AB InBev.

During a conference call with analysts, CFO Felipe Dutra said an IPO of its Asian division could produce several benefits, such as helping to drive further consolidation in the region. However, he also said that AB InBev would remain disciplined and only conduct the offering at the right price.

"We retain the potential IPO as an option and we will continue to monitor the markets ... but there is no assurance that an IPO will ever materialize," Dutra said.