Emerging markets boost beer sales for SABMiller

Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:07am EST
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By David Jones

LONDON (Reuters) - Global brewer SABMiller SAB.L SABJ.J reported a 3 percent rise in beer volumes in the last three months of 2011, as growth in African and Latin American markets helped offset falls in North America and Europe.

The world's second-largest brewer and maker of Miller Lite, Peroni and Grolsch also said on Thursday that beer price rises helped the group to push up its underlying revenue in its October-December third quarter by 7 percent.

The London-based group said overall its financial performance was in line with its expectations as price rises helped offset moderate rises in raw materials like barley, wheat and corn as analysts look for flat profit margins for its year.

However, beer volumes at its newly-acquired Foster's Australian business dipped 6 percent in the quarter and although not included in its overall figures showed the challenge faced by Foster's new chief Ari Mervis in such a difficult market.

SABMiller makes 70 percent of its profits in emerging markets and therefore has a lower exposure to flat western beer markets than its three big rivals Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR: Quote), Heineken (HEIN.AS: Quote) and Carlsberg CARLb.CO.

Investors were looking for a 3 percent rise in underlying third-quarter volumes, based on a Reuters survey of 10 brokers. This was after a similar April-Sept first-half rise made up of a strong first quarter, ahead 5 percent, and a flat second quarter

hit by rain and cold weather in China and eastern Europe.

SABMiller shares edged up 0.1 percent to 2,299 pence in a slightly higher London stock market by 0840 GMT, having already risen 10 percent from a low in late November of 2,075 pence.   Continued...