Bud Light parent Anheuser-Busch sees $27 billion gone, shares near bear market

Shares of Bud Light parent Anheuser-Busch down nearly 20% from March highs

Two months ago, Bud Light rolled the dice on a marketing push involving transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney, a move that has been met with customer pushback, boycotts and a big hit to the bottom line in the form of falling sales and the value of parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev.

About $27 billion in market value has vanished, falling to $107.44 billion through the end of May, down from $134.55 billion on March 31, as tracked by Dow Jones Market Data Group.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BUD ANHEUSER-BUSCH INBEV 59.70 +0.21 +0.35%

The stock is down 19.98% from its recent March high, just shy of hitting an official bear market, which is a 20% drop. May was the third-worst month on record for company shares.

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Mulvaney was gifted a personalized pack of beer with the influencer's likeness as part of an ad for the company's March Madness contest and to celebrate the one-year anniversary since Mulvaney began identifying as a woman. The marketing move sparked backlash from beer loyalists.

"The problem is it just takes your brand into a space that it doesn't need to be, and it just creates a lot of strong feelings about something that isn't really related to the product or its brand," said Timothy Calkins, associate chair of the marketing department at Northwestern Kellogg, in an interview with FOX Business last week. "That's why I think we're going to see lots of brands be really cautious about what they do, especially related issues that aren't directly aligned with their product or service."

Dylan Mulvaney drinks Bud Light beer

Bud Light has faced intense backlash from longtime customers over its recent campaign with transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney. (Instagram/Fox News / Fox News)

On April 14, Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth addressed the controversy in a statement.

"As the CEO of a company founded in America’s heartland more than 165 years ago, I am responsible for ensuring every consumer feels proud of the beer we brew. We’re honored to be part of the fabric of this country. Anheuser-Busch employs more than 18,000 people and our independent distributors employ an additional 47,000 valued colleagues. We have thousands of partners, millions of fans and a proud history supporting our communities, military, first responders, sports fans and hard-working Americans everywhere," Whitworth said. "We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer."

Still, on May 10, HSBC analyst Carlos Laboy and his team cut the stock to a hold.

"It is unclear how ABI will reverse eroding US volume and brand relevance, and fix distributors’ trust, without leadership changes" the team wrote in a research note to clients.

- HSBC analyst Carlos Laboy, downgrading (BUD) shares to a hold, May 10, 2023

"It is unclear how ABI will reverse eroding US volume and brand relevance, and fix distributors’ trust, without leadership changes," the team wrote in a research note to clients, adding what is needed to restore investor confidence.

"Stabilization of volume and brand relevance erosion. A long-term plan to recover lost brand relevance for its mainstream brands. Evidence that the marketing department is hiring people with a keen sensibility for understanding the core consumer and for bringing new consumers into their base" they wrote.

In recent weeks, sales remain sluggish. Heading into the Memorial Day weekend, Fox News Digital reported that some Budweiser products were being sold for free in select stores due to a promotional rebate from the company.

Sales volume for Bud Light has fallen 29.5% in the week ending May 20, compared to the same period a year ago, according to data provided to Newsweek by Bump Williams Consulting and Nielsen IQ. This data showed the sales revenue dropped 25.7% in the same period.

Bud Light bottles

Sales volume for Bud Light has fallen 29.5% in the week ending May 20, compared to the same period a year ago. (Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Bud Light / Getty Images)

While Bud's parent remains under pressure, rivals are benefiting. Shares of Molson Coors, Constellation Brands, which counts Corona and Modelo as beers, and Boston Beer, maker of Sam Adam's and Truly Hard Seltzer, have all seen their shares rise for the month, including Wednesday.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BUD ANHEUSER-BUSCH INBEV 59.70 +0.21 +0.35%
TAP MOLSON COORS BEVERAGE CO. 50.20 +0.67 +1.35%
SAM BOSTON BEER CO. INC. 290.92 +6.05 +2.12%
STZ CONSTELLATION BRANDS INC. 262.34 +8.84 +3.49%

Several executives tied to the Mulvaney marketing campaign are on a leave of absence, according to reports.

Inquiries by FOX Business to Anheuser-Busch on the stock performance were not immediately returned.

Fox News Digital's Lindsay Kornick and Alexa Moutevelis contributed to this report.