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Boston Beer ( SAM) is the largest craft brewer in the U.S., and the sixth-biggest brewer in the U.S.

Industry analysts have a decidedly conflicting outlook for the company's shares.

Morningstar gives the company a two-star rating because it believes shares are overvalued at current prices ($87 recently), and it puts a fair value price of $75 on them. "Although we continue to admire the strength of the Sam Adams brand, we recommend investors look elsewhere for value in the brewing industry."

Morningstar analyst Philip Gorham said in a March 9 research note that even after the recent drop in the company's share price, "Boston Beer is still trading at 22 times 2011 (estimated) earnings, a valuation that we think reflects neither the firm's limited scale, which means it does not share the competitive advantages of its much larger peers, nor the looming risks to profitability."

Morningstar said its review of analysts' ratings found one "buy," three "holds" and "two" underperform" ratings.

But Standard & Poor's gives the company a four-star rating out of a possible five, a "buy" recommendation and a 12-month price target of $97 per share.

The ratings firm's analysts said in a March 5 research note that they expect "further volume growth in craft brews as consumers view products as an affordable luxury. Over the short term, we think we may see continued trading down within the beer category from premium brands but believe those trends will reverse in 2011."

Shares are down 8% this year but have risen 75% over the past year. Its shares have an impressive five-year average annual return of 26%. It has a market value of $1.2 billion.

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