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Anheuser-Busch Reports Substantial 4th Quarter Drop in Income

Anheuser-Busch, the makers of flavorless, mass-produced highly engineered food products, commands just a hair short of half the American beer market (49.8%). Their next closest competitor — Miller — has a mere 17.8% market share. And A-B got to that lofty position not by playing nice. Their bullying tactics, some would say underhanded, are legendary. I’ve heard more than a few first and secondhand accounts of their bluster. So while I generally don’t like to take too much pleasure in the misfortune of others, in this case I’ll make an exception. According to an AP wire story earlier today, A-B reported for the 4th quarter of 2005 a dip in profits of 39.8%. The spin on it was that “the increasing popularity of cocktails and wine kept beer sales flat.” But craft beer is up 7% so perhaps there’s something else at work here. Anheuser-Busch’s corporate website reported the 39.8% drop in net income but even more interestingly a 54.7% drop in income before taxes! (On a side note the same report also notes a drop in domestic market share to 48.7%). No wonder there were reports late last year about pairing up with the other big breweries to create a got milk?-like campaign for beer. Apparently the problem is not enough people are drinking beer. Well I plan to do my part. Would you like to join me for a pint? Let’s get that 7% up to ten.

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