Beer Brewers: Tomorrow’s Pot Plays

I don’t know who gets the credit for saying: “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” (Yogi Berra, Mark Twain or Ernest Hemingway seem like good random guesses…) But that just might be the new mission statement for a $250 billion swath of U.S. companies that appear ready to become America’s first “stealth” pot stocks.

After all, these firms tried everything else to get their “growth mojo” back, with…

  • New packaging schemes.
  • New ad agencies.
  • More brands.
  • Lower prices.

For U.S. beer companies, nothing’s worked.

Could a pivot into pot help? We’re about to find out.

U.S. beer companies have tried everything else to get their “growth mojo” back, but nothing's worked. Could a pivot into pot help? We’re about to find out.

Potential Pot Investments

Constellation Brands Inc. (NYSE: STZ) led the way last month. The maker of Corona Beer became the first of the group to buy its way into the marijuana sector.

It paid an estimated $191 million for a 10% ownership stake in Canadian medical marijuana company Canopy Growth Corp. (which trades in Canada under — what else? — the symbol WEED).

A few days later, Molson Coors Brewing Co. (NYSE: TAP) signaled to analysts it was also getting the munchies for potential pot investments: “We have a team of people working on that. We’re looking at potential impacts and/or the opportunities,” said CEO Mark Hunter.

I haven’t seen anything solid from Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD) on the subject yet. But the beer giant’s former marketing chief, Chris Burggraeve (now a major pot investor himself), told Bloomberg that weed today is where the whole craft beer phenomenon was in the 1990s, just before it exploded in popularity.

So you know some version of the same conversation is taking place around the kegs and hops barrels in St. Louis, where Anheuser-Busch is based.

Under Pressure

Beer makers are under pressure from stockholders to do something, after all.

In the last year, Molson Coors shares are down nearly 30%. Anheuser-Busch InBev lost 13%. Since 2015, the brewer that makes Samuel Adams, Boston Beer Company Inc. (NYSE: SAM), dropped 45%.

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Michael Molman 3 weeks ago Contributor's comment

Weed is clearly a huge investment opportunity, personally I feel like the business would make a better investment for big tobacco then for beer makers.