There are early indications that the beer industry may not be as recession-proof as some investors have hoped. Wells Fargo warned on Friday that the U.S. beer market may be slumping based on data covering December. The firm said domestic U.S. beer shipment volume to wholesalers fell 14.1% year-over-year in December and the two-year comparison was down 19.4%. Both marks were the lowest since 2012, per tracking by the Wells.
“The worsening in Dec is such that there’s something atypical here, i.e., weather was not good, in addition to the impact from pricing on the category,” noted analyst Chris Carey.
The combination of higher pricing, bad weather, and cautious consumer spending trends is seen putting Molson Coors (NYSE:TAP) at risk in particular. Carey and team think a Q4 volume and EPS miss could be in the cards for TAP.
Elsewhere, UBS warned recently that Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) could face a tough year with post-pandemic trends and a potential recession seen as unlikely to lead to a sudden shift by consumers to beer from spirits. The firm expects that Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) will face sales pressure and FX headwinds in 2023-2024, which will only be partially offset by improved business in China.
“Our analysis suggests the beer category is unlikely to benefit from deceleration in premium and above spirits. That said, AB InBev’s offering in the value segment (e.g. Busch) can help mitigate the negative impact of downtrading on volume, at the expense of product mix,” observed analyst Nik Oliver.
The recent data reads on U.S. beer adds to some spending pullbacks reported for the broad alcohol sector in Europe, Asia, and Africa that have analysts reeling in growth expectations for 2023.
Alcohol-related stocks: Splash Beverage (SBEV), Molson Coors (TAP), Boston Beer Company (SAM), Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD), Vintage Wine Estates (VWE), Winc (OTCPK:WBEVQ), Fresh Vine Wine (VINE), Duckhorn Portfolio (NAPA), Constellation Brands (STZ), Fomento Económico Mexicano (FMX), Brown-Forman (BF.A), Diageo (DEO), Heineken (OTCQX:HEINY), Ambev S.A. (ABEV), Compañía Cervecerías Unidas S.A. (CCU), and Carlsberg (OTCPK:CABGY).
See Seeking Alpha Quant Ratings across the beer sector and spirits sector.