USA: Boston Beer with strong results despite COVID-19

The success of products like Truly Hard Seltzer and Twisted Tea is still driving the success of The Boston Beer Company. The company reported today third quarter 2020 results which showed a net revenue of USD 492.8 million, an increase of USD114.3 million or 30.2%, from the same period last year.

Net income for the third quarter was USD80.8 million, an increase of USD36.0 million or 80.6% from the same period last year. Earnings per diluted share were USD 6.51, an increase of USD 2.86 per diluted share, or 78.4% from the third quarter of 2019.  This increase was primarily due to increased revenue that was driven by shipment growth of 30.5%, partially offset by lower gross margins and increases in operating expenses.

"Our depletions growth in the third quarter was the result of increases in our Truly Hard Seltzer and Twisted Tea brands, partly offset by decreases in our Samuel Adams, Angry Orchard and Dogfish Head brands,” commented Dave Burwick, the President and CEO of The Boston Beer Company.

“The growth of the Truly brand, led by Truly Lemonade Hard Seltzer, continues to be very strong and we expect the Truly brand to continue to lead the growth of the business into 2021.  In early 2021, we will launch Truly Iced Tea Hard Seltzer, Truly Extra, a higher ABV version of Truly, and other new Truly flavors and package sizes, as we continue to lead innovation in the Hard Seltzer category.  We believe that Truly Iced Tea Hard Seltzer, which combines the refreshment of hard seltzer with real brewed tea and fruit flavor at only 100 calories and 1 gram of sugar, will further strengthen our position in the category.

“Since early in 2020, Truly has grown its velocity and its market share sequentially despite other national, regional and local hard seltzer brands entering the category.  Truly is the only national hard seltzer, not introduced earlier this year, to grow its share during 2020.  We will continue to invest heavily in the Truly brand and work to improve our position in the hard seltzer category as competition continues to increase.  We also will continue to invest heavily in our "Live Truly" advertising campaign that showcases, variety, colors and joy to hard seltzer drinkers.

“Twisted Tea has benefited greatly from increased at-home consumption and continues to generate consistent double-digit volume growth, even as new entrants have been introduced and competition has increased.

“Our Samuel Adams, Angry Orchard and Dogfish Head brands have been most negatively impacted by COVID-19 and the related On-Premise closures, but we are pleased that they all finished the month of September with strong growth in the measured Off-Premise channels compared to last September.

“For the remainder of 2020 and into 2021, we plan to build upon our success and work to drive our brands to their full potential, with a particular focus on our Truly brand.  We've adjusted our expectations for 2020 full-year depletions growth and our earnings guidance to reflect our trends for the first nine months and our current view of the remainder of the year, which is primarily driven by the year-to-date performance of Truly. We are expecting all of our brands to grow in 2021 and are targeting overall volume growth rates to be between 35% and 45%.

“We have closely managed our operating costs through the COVID-19 pandemic and achieved our planned cost synergies from the Dogfish Head merger. In 2021, based on our current spending and volume assumptions, we are planning for the growth rate of our operating expenses to be below our top line growth rate, delivering leverage to our operating income."

Mr. Burwick continued, "We have been operating our breweries at full capacity for many months and, like our competitors, we have had out of stocks during the quarter.  We expect wholesaler inventories to return to normal levels in the fourth quarter, as we recover from our summer seasonal peak.  Improving our supply chain performance continues to be our top priority and we are in the process of doubling our internal and third-party brewery can packaging capacity for 2021.

“Our new can line at our Cincinnati Brewery began production late in the third quarter and we have recently added additional third-party brewery sleek can capacity.  As reflected in our 2020 and 2021 capital spending guidance, we will continue to invest heavily to increase capacity as appropriate to meet the needs of our business and take full advantage of the fast-growing Hard Seltzer category.  However, the increased usage of third-party breweries and an increasing percentage of variety packs in the company's overall product mix come at a higher incremental cost.

“As a result, our gross margins and gross margin expectations will be negatively impacted until the volume growth stabilizes.  We began a multi-year supply chain transformation project in 2020 to automate and change internal processes to increase efficiency and reduce costs.  The timing of the benefits of this program will depend on the timing and amount of our future volume growth.  We will continue to prioritize volume delivery over margin optimization in this high-growth environment.

“While we are in a very competitive business, we are optimistic for continued growth of our current brand portfolio and innovations and we remain prepared to forsake short-term earnings as we invest to sustain long-term profitable growth, in line with the opportunities that we see."

Jim Koch, Chairman and Founder of the Company, commented, "We achieved depletions growth of 36% in the third quarter. We believe that our depletions growth is attributable to our key innovations, quality and strong brands, as well as sales execution and support from our distributors.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, our primary focus continues to be on operating our breweries and our business safely and working hard to meet customer demand.  I am very proud of the passion, creativity and commitment to community that our company has demonstrated during this pandemic.  We remain positive about the future growth of our brands and are happy that our diversified brand portfolio continues to fuel double-digit growth for the tenth consecutive quarter.  We have planned some major innovations to be introduced in 2021 for all our brands. These include Truly Iced Tea Hard Seltzer, Samuel Adams' Just the Haze, our first non-alcoholic beer, Dogfish Head Scratch-Made Canned Cocktails and Angry Orchard Hard Fruit Cider.  We are confident in our ability to continue to innovate and build strong brands to help support our mission of long-term profitable growth."

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