WOODINVILLE, Wash. (
) -- As the major stock indexes
, a little-known craft beer maker bucked the trend. Shares of
Craft Brewers Alliance
( HOOK) hit a fresh 52-week high of $5.76 and the stock traded at quadruple its average volume.
It was one of only five equities to reach new annual heights in the session, sharing ranks with Indian automaker
Tata Motors Limited
, Argentinean bank
Grupo Financiero Galicia
, organic food maker
( WXCO), the parent company of a group of businesses that make metal and electronic material products.
At least 200,000 Craft shares changed hands Wednesday, compared with their 30-day trailing average of just 49,000. The stock finished the day down by 1.4% however, to $5.54, succumbing to the pressure of a 3% intraday drop on the Nasdaq.
"There's no doubt the craft beer industry is a growing sector," said Scott Rothbort, president of Lakeview Asset Management and frequent contributor
reported that beer titans
Molson Coors Brewing
have lost market share to smaller brewers like those operated by Craft. During 2009, craft beer shipments increased 7.9%, up from the previous annual growth rate of 5.9%, pointing to an accelerating trend. As a percentage of total beer shipped, Craft crept up from 4% to 4.3% in 2009.
Rothbort's top pick in the sector is
, brewer of Sam Adams brand beers.
(Full disclosure: Rothbort is long on Boston Beer shares.)
He likes Boston Beer, in part, because founder Jim Koch still retains some control over the company, serving as chairman of the board, as opposed to Craft which is essentially a conglomerate of four different brands.
Rothbort suggested Craft's big share price move Wednesday could be the result of someone trying to accumulate the stock in anticipation of a takeover. "Craft beers represent a niche that larger brewers would no doubt like to get in on," he said, conceding that he hadn't heard such speculation from any other sources.
Craft Brewers Alliance, a collection of regional breweries including Redhook, Widmer Brothers and Goose Island, announced last week that Kona Brewing, a craft brewer based in Hawaii, would become its wholly-owned subsidiary for the purchase price of $13.9 million.
Anheuser-Busch owned 35.6% of Craft, according to an April 9 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Brothers Kurt and Rob Widmer, founders of Widmer Brothers beer, own a combined 18% of Craft shares.
-- Reported by Miriam Marcus Reimer from New York.
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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.