Analysts Speculate That Anheuser-Busch May Buy Rolling Rock

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Analysts Speculate That Anheuser-Busch May Buy Rolling Rock

Anheuser-Busch Cos., the world's largest brewer, may be close to buying Latrobe Brewing Co., maker of Rolling Rock beer, according to a Wall Street securities analyst.

A report on Anheuser-Busch's interest in Latrobe Brewing by analyst Caroline Levy of UBS Securities in New York comes on top of earlier speculation that Latrobe Brewing's parent company, InBev NV, has been shopping the Westmoreland County brewery, based on InBev's decision to focus sales and marketing resources on its high-profit specialty import brands, reported Pittsburgh’s Tribune-Review .

InBev, the world's third-biggest brewer, said in March it was "examining opportunities" for Rolling Rock and its Latrobe Brewing plant, without being more specific, according to the report.

As reported by the newspaper at that time, Harry Schumacher, publisher of Beer Business Daily in San Antonio, said that St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch could be interested in the "quirky" Rolling Rock brand.

Dave Peacock, Anheuser-Busch's vice president of administration, would not comment on the reports, according to the newspaper.

Anheuser-Busch's interest in adding Rolling Rock to its product mix stems from the brewer's efforts to attract new drinkers with craft-style beers, Levy wrote in her research report Tuesday. Rolling Rock would be attractive to Anheuser-Busch because its products carry prices 16 percent higher than Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser and Bud Light brands, her report said.

"Despite being in the sweet spot of the beer industry (premium domestic craft) Rolling Rock volumes have lagged imports and crafts," Levy said in the report. "We believe with renewed marketing support, the brand could be rejuvenated."

Uncertainty over the fate of the brewery concerns workers there and the community in general, union and political officials told the newspaper.

In other A-B news, the brewer has licensed its Budweiser brand to Vita Food Products Inc. for use in a line of sauces, reported the St. Louis Business Journal . The new line of sauces include a basting sauce, two barbecue sauces and a wing sauce, A-B said in a release Monday.

Financial terms were not disclosed. Vita Food Products will distribute the new line in time for the Fourth of July sales period, reported the newspaper.

Randall Blackford, director of Budweiser marketing for Anheuser-Busch Inc., said in a statement, "There are few things as distinctly American as Budweiser and barbecuing, and our line of Budweiser-branded sauces provides another way for home cooks and grillers to add flavor to their dishes."

Budweiser is a key ingredient in the creation of the sauces, according to the release. Vita Food Products has confirmed the alcohol content after production meets all government requirements to be classified as a non-beverage food product, A-B said in the report.