If you have watched beer trends in America, there are two things you have not been able to ignore over the past five to 10 years. One is that prices have risen, and then there is the notion that beer tastes have gone into craft beers rather than many of the traditional corporate beers that we all grew up on.
MillerCoors is not the first to do so, and will not be the last, but its Tenth and Blake craft and import beer division has reached an agreement to acquire a majority interest in San Diego-based Saint Archer Brewing Company. Miller Coors is a joint venture between SAB Miller and Molson Coors Brewing Co. (NYSE: TAP). As a reminder, Altria Group Inc. (NYSE: MO) owns roughly 27% of SABMiller (see below).
Saint Archer brews ales such as its blonde ale, IPA, white ale and pale ale. While MillerCoors will expand this group much wider than just the California market that Saint Archer is now in, Saint Archer noted that it expects to sell just 35,000 barrels of beer in 2015. This is up over 100% from 2014, and it is still one of the fastest-growing breweries in California at this time, but the reality is that this will have to be expanded handily to even make a dent.
As far as what Tenth and Blake plans to do, it will remain under the leadership of Josh Landan, Saint Archer co-founder and president. Also, Tenth and Blake is not making its first craft effort here as you will see with some of its beers and brands that it makes or imports, as follows:
- Blue Moon
- Crispin (cider)
- Pilsner Irquell
- Batch 19, Grolsch
- George Killian’s
Landan noted that Saint Archer will one day hope to be a national brand. Saint Archer’s management and team will continue to brew, package, ship and sell Saint Archer’s beers, and the company will be run as a separate business unit of Tenth and Blake.
Altria’s 2014 annual report said of its stake in SABMiller:
Altria also holds an approximate 27% stake in SABMiller plc. Equity earnings from our investment in SABMiller have been a solid contributor to Altria’s earnings per share over time. In 2014, Altria recorded pre-tax earnings from its SABMiller equity investment of more than $1 billion.
MillerCoors generated total net sales of $7.848 billion in 2014, with underlying income of $1.328 billion.
Actual terms of the Saint Archer transaction were not disclosed.
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