Last Friday, Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation Anheuser-Busch (NYSE:BUD) announced that it had signed a deal with InBev to distribute several of InBev's beers -- including Beck's, Stella Artois, and Bass Ale -- beginning in February 2007. With no disclosure on the terms of the deal, it's hard to say how the company will benefit financially, but I'm pretty sure of one group that won't benefit -- the competition.

First, let's guesstimate the financial implications of the deal. There are several ways to value the import agreement, including estimating the profits per case or applying a multiple to the estimated sales. It's estimated that the new imports will increase beer volume by 1.5 million barrels. I am using Boston Beer's (NYSE:SAM) $175.50 revenue per barrel in 2005, and estimated $179 revenue per barrel in 2006, as a proxy for total revenue. If Anheuser-Busch is able to sell 1.5 million barrels and pays two times for those sales (in line with published reports), the import business would cost Anheuser-Busch roughly $527 million to $535 million for the deal. (For reference, Anheuser-Busch currently trades at a price-to-sales ratio of 2.3.)

Even though this is an imprecise valuation, it helps give perspective on the size of the deal. Consider that Anheuser-Busch's domestic operations sold 101.5 million barrels in 2005. That means that the company's current distribution deal is only increasing domestic volume distribution by 1.5%, even less when looking at the beer giant's combined global beer volume. So the new deal has little impact on Anheuser-Busch's financial picture when looking at revenues or cash flow. But what Anheuser-Busch does gain is an increased presence on the grocery shelf.

Anheuser-Busch, with the help of BudNet, the company's sophisticated supply chain management tool, will take that presence to better compete in the growing import market by controlling more shelf space at the grocery store and tap handles at the pub. And maintaining any edge is critical for Anheuser-Busch's ability to compete with a host of competitors, including Molson Coors Brewing (NYSE:TAP), SABMiller, Heineken, and Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ). So while the size of the deal is relatively small financially, Anheuser-Busch's increased competitive strength is something its competition will consider very real.

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Fool contributor Matthew Crews welcomes your feedback -- really! He has no financial position in any of the companies mentioned and responsibly discloses his preference for Bass Ale. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.