One Company's Bottleneck Is Another's Opening

08/02/2010 12:38 pm EST


Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor,

The noose got a little tighter around Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo (OTC: GPMCY), Mexico’s largest beer maker.

On July 12, the company lost in arbitration with Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD), the world’s biggest brewer. Grupo Modelo had sought to void the transfer to BUD of the 50% stake of Modelo that Anheuser owned before the merger with InBev that created the beer giant.

The ruling clears the way for BUD to eventually acquire the rest of Grupo Modelo.

Companhia de Bebidas das Americas (AmBev) (NYSE: ABV), the Brazilian brewer and Pepsi distributor that’s controlled by BUD, isn’t a direct party to any of this arbitration or negotiation. But I think this outcome works in AmBev’s favor.

First, Ambev doesn’t have much of a presence in Mexico and a deal that gave Anheuser control of Grupo Modelo’s breweries and distribution network could help Ambev—the largest beer company in Latin America—expand brands like Brahma into Mexico.

That would be even more advantageous to AmBev if Anheuser also wound up signing a distribution deal with the Oxxo convenience-store chain after 2020. The chain accounts for about 14% of the sales for the beer division that Heineken acquired from Fomento Economico Mexicano SAB de CV (FEMSA) (NYSE: FMX).

Second, the results of the arbitration and the resulting reshuffling of the players in the Latin American beer and soft drink market seems to weaken such AmBev competitors as FEMSA. That would be good for AmBev’s soft drink business. AmBev is the largest Pepsi bottler in Latin America but only the number-two soft drink company in its Brazilian home market.

On the beer side, AmBev is the market leader in Brazil (69% market share); Canada (42%); Argentina (76%); Bolivia (97%); Paraguay (96%), and Uruguay (97%).

As of August 2, I'm leaving my target price for AmBev at $118 by October 2010. (It traded above $108 at noon ET Monday.)

Full disclosure: I don't own shares of any company mentioned in this post in my personal portfolio.

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