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Anheuser-Busch InBev stock rises as brewer picks an insider as its next CEO

Carlos Brito, chief executive of Anheuser-Busch InBev,

Eric Vidal | Reuters

Shares of Anheuser-Busch InBev rose 5% in premarket trading after the Bud Light brewer announced that CEO Carlos Brito will step down, effective July 1.

Michel Doukeris, who currently serves as the head of the company’s North American business, will take the reins from Brito.

“The CEO announcement will allow investors to reformulate views on a company which appears to be at the start of a positive transition,” Barclays analyst Laurence Whyatt wrote in a note to clients.

In addition to the succession announcement, Anheuser-Busch InBev reported its first-quarter earnings, topping Wall Street’s estimates despite lockdowns outside of the United States. Revenue rose 17.2% to $12.3 billion as the company faced comparisons to last year, when bars and restaurants began shuttering temporarily due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Brito has held the role of chief executive for 15 years, starting when the company was only InBev. He led the acquisitions of Anheuser-Busch and SABMiller, transforming the firm into the world’s largest beer brewer and cutting costs along the way.

However, in recent recent years, consumption of beer has been declining as consumers opt for substitutes like hard seltzer or choose to drink less — or not at all. AB InBev has added new products, like Bud Light Seltzer, to adapt to changing tastes.

Michel Doukeris, North America CEO & President of Anheuser-Busch, speaks at the signing of a contract between Anheuser-Busch and the sun, at the Fairfield Brewery in Fairfield, California on June 5, 2019.

Vivien Killilea | Getty Images

Jefferies analyst Edward Mundy wrote that Doukeris brings a “strong premium focus” to the company. He implemented the high-end division in China. He also has experience with e-commerce. The successor for Doukeris’s current role will be named before July.

Shares of AB InBev have risen 6% so far this year, giving it a market value of $126 billion.

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