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Anheuser-Busch Fizzles Out

Shares fall after the brewer's earnings miss targets.
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posted a 3.7% increase in first-quarter earnings, but the report went flat as the brewer missed Wall Street's expectation.

Shares of the beer giant recently were down $1.67, or 3.2%, to $50.68.

The St. Louis-based company said Wednesday that its first-quarter profit rose to $517.5 million, or 67 cents a share, from $499.2 million, or 64 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were looking for earnings of 69 cents a share.

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Sales increased 2.7% to $3.85 billion but missed Wall Street's target of $3.94 billion.

In the U.S., beer volume edged up 0.5% to 25.7 million barrels. International beer volume climbed 8.7% to 5.2 million barrels.

Anheuser said it is "encouraged" by its progress over the quarter.

"We successfully implemented domestic beer price increases and discount reductions earlier this year and the pricing environment continues to be favorable," August Busch IV, president and CEO, said in a statement. "Our cost reduction efforts have lessened the impact of ongoing cost pressures and the gross profit margin for our company improved during the quarter."

The company said its estimated U.S. market share, based on shipment volume, slipped to 50.2% from 50.9% a year ago. The estimate is based on information provided by the Beer Institute and the U.S. Department of Commerce.