Anheuser-Busch

(BUD) - Get Report

warned late Tuesday that weak domestic beer sales could leave it a penny shy of first-quarter earnings targets.

The St. Louis-based brewery said first-quarter domestic beer volume was below expectations, as sales to wholesalers dropped 2.7% from a year ago. Sales of the low-carb Michelob Ultra flattened out after last year's strong start.

The maker of Budweiser and Bud Light said it expects to make 63 cents to 64 cents a share for the first quarter and $2.80 for the year. Wall Street analysts had been expecting earnings of 64 cents a share for the quarter and $2.74 for the year.

"The company has stepped up its new product, packaging and marketing efforts, but it will take time for these new initiatives to gain traction," said CEO Patrick Stokes. "Given Anheuser-Busch's substantial competitive strengths in the U.S. beer market, we are confident the company will successfully restore its volume momentum."

Late Tuesday, Anheuser fell 20 cents to $47.24.