/ 15 May 2008

SABMiller earnings top forecast with 19% rise

SABMiller, the world’s biggest brewer, beat forecasts with a 19% rise in annual earnings, but added beer volume growth in its current first-half will be hit by high input costs and high comparative figures.

The London-based maker of Miller Lite, Peroni and Pilsner Urquell beers posted adjusted earnings per share on Thursday of 143,1 United States cents for the year to March 31 compared with forecasts of 134,1 cents to 142,1 cents with a consensus of 137,8 cents.

The group added that the economic outlook across its global operations, which is biased towards growth markets in developing countries, remains positive, but added a note of caution.

”In the current year, volume growth in the first half will be affected by high comparative growth rates, and pressure on input costs will continue to increase, although pricing and mix benefits are again expected to compensate for these cost increases,” the group said in a results statement.

The group, which bought Dutch brewer Grolsch in February and is waiting for approval to combine its US operations with Molson Coors, proposed a full-year dividend up 16% at 58 US cents a share.

Earlier this month, the world’s number two brewer, InBev, reported lower-than-expected first-quarter earnings as costs jumped nearly 10% and it suffered from weak beer markets in Brazil and Russia, two of its key growth regions. — Reuters