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Top 4 Beer Stocks for 2018

Sin stocks are often thought of as being fairly resilient regardless of economic conditions. In the 2018 landscape, however, your choices have been somewhat narrowed. Casinos aren’t really hot right now except in Asia, while cigarettes have been on a rollercoaster lately. And when it comes to alcohol, there has been a lot of consolidation in the market, especially in the case of brewers. (See also: 5 Tempting Sin Stocks.) 

However, if you have a passion for the hoppy beverage and want to put your money where your mouth is, 2018 might be a great time to get a piece of these Beer stocks. All figures are current as of Feb. 9, 2018. (See also: Beeronomics: Factors Affecting Your Pint.)

Constellation Brands, Inc. (STZ)

Although Constellation is perhaps best known for its portfolio of wine brands (Robert Mondavi and Clos du Bois, for example), its beers are also household names. Constellation handles popular Mexican brands Corona and Modelo, and these are the beers that are currently fueling the company’s impressive surge in sales, which have been growing consistently over the past few years.

According to Constellation’s 2016 annual report, operating income was up 118% over 2015, with beer sales up 24% compared with sales growth of just 8% for wine and spirits. The company is solidly in first place for imported beers in the U.S. In fact, Modelo was the fastest-growing beer brand in the country.

At roughly $210, Constellation stock is trading at nearly 23 times earnings, and it is up 36% over the past 12 months. After this impressive performance, the stock’s average 12-month price target of $247.62 suggests upside of around 18% from current levels. Although the stock is not a pure beer play, it’s tough to argue with Constellation’s impressive beer-driven growth trajectory. The company also recently added another sinful substance to its portfolio by acquiring a 9.9% stake in Canadian cannabis firm Canopy Growth Corporation (TWMJF). (For more, see: Constellation Brands Begins 2018 With a Mojo Buzz.)

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (BUD)

If you’re looking for a pure beer play and major established brands, you can’t overlook Anheuser-Busch InBev. In addition to the flagship Budweiser brand, Anheuser-Busch handles Fosters, Stella Artois, Beck’s, Corona and Michelob, among others. And with its massive $100 billion merger with SABMiller, AB InBev is by far the largest brewing company in the world – it accounts for 50% of the U.S. market and almost 30% of the global market, with $55 billion in annual sales.

After hitting highs above $126 in October, the brewer’s stock saw several months of declines, bottoming at around $110 in December and ticking upward into the new year. More recently, the stock declined sharply in conjunction with the broad market sell-off, reaching current levels around $102. But even after the recent downturn, this beer stock is not cheap, with a steep P/E ratio of 38. AB InBev is also a strong dividend payer, with a current dividend yield of 3.78%. There is roughly 23% upside potential to the stock’s average price target of $125.31. The company recently made news by placing an order for 40 electric Semi trucks from Tesla, Inc. (TSLA). (See also: How Anheuser-Busch Makes Money.)

Molson Coors Brewing Company (TAP)

This is another all-beer, all-the-time stock that represents established brands, including Molson and Coors, of course, as well as Killian’s, Blue Moon, Keystone, Cobra and Sharp’s. The company draws the bulk of its revenue from Canada (roughly 40%) and just 3% or so from U.S. sales. The U.K. and Eastern Europe are its other major markets.

At a current price of $73.33, the stock trades at a P/E ratio of 7.08. The share price is down approximately 23% over the past 12 months. However, with an average price target of $95.85, there are expectations for a gain of more than 30% over the next 12 months. For the most recently reported quarter, which ended Sept. 30, 2017, Molson Coors’ revenue and earnings ticked downward on a year-over-year basis. (See also: Soft U.S. Sales Weigh Upon Molson Coors’ Q3 Earnings.)

Craft Brew Alliance, Inc. (BREW)

If you’re a beer drinker, you know that craft brew is a driving force behind beer’s growing popularity over the past few years. The Craft Brew Alliance is an Oregon-based company that focuses on bringing American craft beer to market. Its portfolio includes the Kona, Red Hook, Widmer Brothers and Omission brands. It is definitely a smaller player, with 2016 revenue of just over $202 million.

Craft Brew Alliance shares soared by more than 17% in early November 2017 after the company issued a solid quarterly earnings report for the period that ended Sept. 30, 2017. Investors appear bullish on the stock given the robust performance of the Kona brand and the company’s strong fundamentals. Currently at $18.20, the stock is trading at a high P/E ratio of 201, reflecting strong growth expectations. (See also: Craft Beer Saw Double-Digit Growth in 2016.)

The Bottom Line

Beyond the frosty mug, you may be able to find a place for beer in your portfolio. While continued consolidation in the beverage market has limited the number of companies to choose from, the stocks on this list offer some growth potential to thirsty investors. (For additional reading, check out: AB InBev Explores Techniques to Brew Beer on Mars.)

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