For its part, TAP already has reported declining results. On Nov. 2, it posted a 44% plunge in third-quarter net income. Meanwhile, TAP's revenue fell 3% to $2.29 billion on a 4% volume decline to 17.2 million barrels.

The reason revenues did not fall as fast as volume was that some customers were willing to buy more high-priced brews. For example, according to the Associated Press, "higher priced seasonal craft brand extensions, like Blue Moon Summer Honey Wheat and Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy, were popular. But sales of Miller Lite and Miller Genuine Draft fell, as did sales of the company's lowest-priced beers following a price increase."

So here's what the investment choice between BUD and TAP boils down to:
  • Anheuser Busch: Shrinking steadily, but high margins; expensive stock. BUD's sales have dropped 1.3% in the past 12 months to $37.8 billion, while net income shrank 12.7% to $4.8 billion -- yielding a wide 18.02% net profit margin. Its price/earnings-to-growth ratio of 2.16 (where a PEG of 1.0 is considered fairly priced) is expensive on a P/E of 22.48 and expected earnings growth of 10.4% to $4.15 in 2012.
  • Molson Coors: Growing sales and good margins, but shrinking profits; expensive stock. TAP's sales have gone up 7.3% in the past 12 months to $3.4 billion, while net income dropped 8.4% to $620 million -- yielding a solid 17.95% net profit margin. Its PEG of 2.9 is very expensive on a P/E of 12.15 and expected earnings growth of 4.2% to $3.66 in 2012.
  • Both stocks look way too expensive to quaff for your portfolio, at least as long as volume sales are declining. But if you want to follow consumer trends, drink craft beer.

    As of this writing, Peter Cohan did not own a position in any of the aforementioned stocks.

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  • This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

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