After spending much of the past six months at a less-than-impressive two-star rank, Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD) has impressed enough top-performing members of our 165,000-strong Motley Fool CAPS community recently to climb all the way up to four stars. A total of 100 members have now given their opinion on the newly merged beverage giant, with many of them offering analysis and commentary explaining the recent optimism.

CAPS members have had more confidence recently that InBev's acquisition of Anheuser-Busch will generate long-term value as the combined company achieved synergies of $130 million in the first quarter, bringing the total to nearly $1.5 billion to date.

Despite a respectable showing in the first quarter, the North American market was a weak spot for the company, while smaller brewers such as Boston Beer (NYSE: SAM) saw superb volume growth. The economic environment has prompted other companies such as competitor Molson Coors (NYSE: TAP) and liquor giant Diageo (NYSE: DEO) to beef up marketing spending to spark sales. Anheuser-Busch expects improving volumes in the second half of the year, similar to the outlook for better volumes from Craft Brewers Alliance (Nasdaq: HOOK), which swung to a first-quarter profit itself, and many investors agree that there's growth potential among the company's brands.         

While the North American market continues its recovery, Anheuser-Busch has been taking advantage of growth in emerging markets like Brazil and China, where it has seen increasing volumes and growth in market share. Other beverage companies have had a similar focus, as business outside North America has become increasingly important for growth at non-alcoholic beverage giants Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) and PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP). Both have been aggressively investing in China, with Coke announcing a $2 billion investment in China last year and Pepsi recently unveiling plans to invest $2.5 billion there over the next three years.

With Anheuser-Busch seeing a "good start" to the year and the expectations of strong operational performance for the full year, many CAPS members are on board with the company's improving sentiment.

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