This week’s Stock of the Week is the world’s largest brewer. It’s steadily growing in big and small ways…

Better Brewing

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA (BUD), the world’s largest brewer, has found a way to address the threat of competition from increasingly popular craft beers. Anheuser has bought up major craft beer firms—such as Shock Top and Goose Island—and plugged them into its impressive worldwide distribution network.

Based in Belgium and best known for its Budweiser, Bud Light, Stella Artois and Corona brands, the company accounts for 46% of all beer sales in the US. Even when antitrust issues have kept it from picking up certain brands in the US, it has gained them elsewhere. It has Miller outside the US and Corona in Mexico.

Earnings were hurt in 2016 by legal and management matters affecting the Miller acquisition, by currency issues, and by economic problems in Brazil, where Anheuser makes 25% of its sales. Sales volume fell 4% there, which caused an 18% drop in local profits. These problems appear to be receding, and revenue grew even during the difficulties, from $43.6 billion in 2015 to an estimated $45 billion in 2016, with further likely growth to $46.5 billion in 2017 and $48.2 billion in 2018. The dividend is high—$3.40/share, recently yielding 3.1%—and appears secure.

Fiscal year.: Dec. Earnings per share: 2018 est./$5.55…2017 est./$4.85..2016 est./$3.50…2015/$5.05.

This Week’s Expert

Thomas J. Sudyka, Jr., is portfolio manager at Lawson Kroeker Investment Management, Omaha, which manages $435 million, and co-portfolio manager of the $25 million LK Balanced Fund (LKBLX).