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How to Play the World Series

Liquid Refreshments

You'll surely require some liquid refreshments for the World Series. Let's start with the suds. Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) was formed by the acquisition of the old Anheuser-Busch beer company by InBev, a Belgian company. In order to fund this $52 billion purchase, InBev issued nearly $45 billion in debt. Currently, the company carries about $55 billion in debt, quite a large load for a $135 billion market-cap company. The company was delisted in the U.S. markets immediately after the acquisition and then relisted in July 2009. It has issued only one quarter's worth of combined results so far.

At this point in time, I do not believe that there is enough data to make more than a guess on Anheuser-Busch InBev. Furthermore, I am reluctant to recommend purchasing a company with a huge amount of debt.

Molson Coors Brewing (TAP - Get Report) brews, sells and distributes many well-known beer labels, including Molson, Coors, Miller High Life, Amstel Light and Asahi, as well as other lesser-known brands. Product-wise, Molson Coors' beers compete directly with many of the Anheuser-Busch labels, such as Budweiser and Michelob.

Sales growth has been rather spotty over the past few years, with 5.9% growth in 2007, an 8% loss in 2008 and 2% growth in the first half of 2009. Earnings per share have had far more variation, increasing 31.5% in 2007, declining 23.9% in 2008 and rising 118% for the first half of 2009. Gross profit margins for Molson Coors have been in a steady decline over the past few years, going from 46% in 2007 to 40% in 2008 and so far 39% in 2009. That is not a trend I'm excited about.

One of my favorite beers and beer companies is Boston Beer (SAM - Get Report), which was founded as a local brewery in 1984 and has since gone national and, to a less extent, international. Boston Beer produces hand-crafted beer under the Sam Adams brand name and flavored malt beverages under the Twisted Tea label. The company manufactures year-round beers such as Sam Adams Boston Lager as well as a variety of seasonal, specialty and flavored beers. All beers are sold either in brown bottles to ensure full flavor and decrease spoilage or in draught for bars and restaurants.

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