Whoever said beer has become less popular forgot to tell Boston Beer (NYSE:SAM). If you were just looking at the numbers, you would think you were staring at a social-media success play. I doubt you would have ever guessed you were looking at a 30-year-old world-famous beer company. In an industry dominated by mostly slower growth players such as Molson Coors Brewing (NYSE:TAP) and Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE:BUD), the maker of good ole Sammy Adams is seeing growth do anything but taper off.
Boston Beer reported third-quarter results on Oct. 30. Revenue rocketed up 30% to $216.4 million. Net income shot up 23.6% to $25.7 million or $1.89 per share. Excluding a writedown in land, earnings per share popped 30.1%.
The primary cause of this great quarter was, in a word: shipments. Its flagship Samuel Adams Boston Lager itself saw amazing growth. This means this result wasn't mainly produced by any temporary bump from a curious new promotional beer or some wild macro trend. In short, the brand itself is simply on a tear and kicking butt.
That said, its "craft category" wasn't exactly a slacker, either. New beers such as Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin were able to sell well due in part to the exploding popularity of the 30-year-old brand itself. Founder Jim Koch publicly thanked wholesalers, retailers, and employees for its growth and success. This smells like more success is on the way. It would be a tad tacky to go on a public-thanking spree just ahead of a lousy quarter.
CEO Martin Roper stated, "We believe that the strength of our main brands is reflective of strong sales execution and our increased investments in media, local marketing and point of sale, and the efforts of our increased sales force." Once again, this suggests it's all about the success of the core brand that's driving the entire company's great results.
Too many beer runs, not enough beer
Roper also stated that demand was actually so strong, Boston Beer ended up having product shortages at one point. The supply chain literally couldn't keep up with all the demand for deliveries. The company remains "tank constrained." It is a great problem for a beer company to have when it can't brew the suds fast enough.
Molson Coors Brewing isn't doing too shabbily with its cold ones, but clearly it's not even remotely growing at Sammy Adams' pace. Molson Coors reported its third-quarter results on Nov. 6. Net revenue inched up 2.9% to $2.051 billion. Underlying net income rose 11.7% to $363.8 million. Not too bad, considering the company's already large size. Still it's not exactly anything to write home about.
Anheuser-Busch InBev reported its third-quarter results at the end of October. Revenue increased 3%. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization were up 10.5%. Again, it's not too bad considering its size. Still, Anheuser-Busch InBev wasn't happy about the slow growth and mentioned several times in the conference call that this was due to consumer challenges with "disposable income." Boston Beer certainly isn't feeling that problem.
Foolish final thoughts
When it comes to speed of growth, Boston Beer wins a chugging contest hands down. For this company, the challenge currently is more about production and less about consumer demand. To tailgate Boston Beer's next leg up, keep following the news on production expansion. It seems like for now, every bottle and keg brewed is sold before it even gets out the brewery door.