Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD 2.67%) is back in growth mode. The global beer conglomerate, which owns hundreds of brands including Bud Light and Stella Artois, on Thursday revealed improving sales and volume trends as it recovers from the huge COVID-19 hit that the business took in the spring and summer months.
Sales rose 4% and global volume rose 1.9% to mark the first increase on those metrics since volumes collapsed 10% in the fiscal first quarter of 2020. Standout brands included Stella Artois, Corona, and Budweiser.
InBev explained that major sales pressures remain as the virus has reduced demand in bars, restaurants, sporting events, and many other on-premises activities. The company is more exposed to these issues than smaller peers like Constellation Brands and Boston Beer, which have each enjoyed strong beer sales growth through the pandemic. These challenges contributed to management's decision to continue forgoing its normal dividend payment through the end of fiscal 2020.
But executives were happy to highlight their return to overall growth even as more alcohol spending shifts toward at-home consumption. "We delivered a strong and balanced ... performance," CEO Carlos Brito said in a press release, "by quickly adapting to meet the evolving needs of our customers."