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Analyst: ABInBev, SABMiller To Grow In Recession

MILWAUKEE (AP) ¿ An analyst on Wednesday initiated coverage of the world's biggest brewers, saying Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller PLC are better positioned than rivals Carlsberg and Heineken because they are less exposed to recession-weary Europe.

Morgan Stanley analyst Michael Steib gave "Overweight" ratings to ABInBev, which formed last year when Belgian-brewer InBev bought Anheuser-Busch Cos Inc., and SABMiller, saying he preferred the world's two largest brewers because of their limited exposure to Europe and their greater exposure to the U.S., where drinking hasn't suffered much under the recession.

He gave Carlsberg an "Equal-weight" rating and Heineken an "Underweight" rating, since they do more of their business in Europe, where beer volumes are falling faster than in the U.S. as consumers cut back on their spending. About 7 percent of Heinken's earnings before interest and taxes are from the U.S., while ABInBev is at 40 percent and SABMiller is at 15 percent.

"We expect U.S. beer volumes to decline by only 2 percent in 2009 in contrast to some European markets where we see mid-to-high single digit declines," Steib wrote in a note to clients.

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