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Boston Beer is betting on the humble can to boost sales with the millennial crowd.
The New England brewery, maker of Samuel Adams lager and Angry Orchard hard cider, has plans to roll out multiple new beers in the next year, including the SAM '76 and the Sam Adams New England IPA.
It has high hopes for the SAM '76 brew, which will be sold in a can to appeal to younger demographics. But the industry's fascination with cans over bottles isn't new. Winemakers are also shifting from glass to metal.
Nielsen, a consumer research firm, notes that cans are often more portable than glass containers, which are often banned by certain venues like beaches and concert grounds. They are also lighter than bottles and are seen as environmentally sustainable.
"Craft in cans is growing faster than craft in bottles," Boston Beer's Chairman Jim Koch said during the company's earnings call on Thursday. "The can is now pretty well accepted among craft beer drinkers and this is a beer that has more of the easy drinking characteristics maybe that you associate with something in cans."
Cans are also cheaper materials than bottles. Credit Suisse analyst Laurent Grandet said it could improve profitability and boost sales next year. He raised his earnings per share estimates for fiscal year 2017, 2018 and 2019 and bumped his price target on the company to $160. The new target is 10 percent lower than Thursday's closing price, but Grandet only recently upgraded the stock to neutral from underperform.
Wall Street analysts have been cautious on the company as concerns around competition mounted. Cowen research noted earlier this year that sharp increases in sales of alcohol-spiked seltzer drinks, which are also sold in cans, may pose a growing threat to beer, while young people have also increased their wine consumption.
Boston Beer shares struggled Friday after the company beat Wall Street profit expectations but disappointed analysts on revenue. The stock closed down 5 percent Friday afternoon.