A-B gains, but Bud.TV’s future uncertain

Anheuser-Busch reported short term gains Tuesday, saying that beer sales to retailers have rebounded in May after a disappointing April.

The brewer said sales from wholesalers to retailers for the whole company, as well as just for its core beer brands including Budweiser and Bud Light, rose at a mid-single digit percentage rate. So far, sales to retailers are up 1 percent quarter to date.

Executives also presented a broad overview of the future during A-B’s investor conference in St. Louis.

(The) told analysts that the company is focused on growing its core U.S. business even as it cranks up expansion in China and experiments in exotic drinks like a beer-tomato cocktail.

The nation’s largest brewery said it expected earnings per share to grow more than 10 percent this year, outpacing the company’s goal of 7 percent to 10 percent growth. Earnings per share in the current quarter will probably fall short of 7 percent, but growth should accelerate in the second half of the year, the company said. Last year, A-B earned $2.53 per share.

The company indicated it will again change its online marketing in response to the disappointing debut of Bud.TV.

A-B spent about $12 million to create 2,000 minutes of proprietary content for Bud.TV, which launched on Super Bowl Sunday in February.

But tight controls on the website — meant to stop underage viewers from accessing the skits and shows, some of which included beer — put the company in a “no-win situation.”

The site’s shows will likely be used at other A-B beer sites, although the company indicated Bud.TV would still play a role in marketing efforts.