/ 18 January 2011

SABMiller third-quarter volumes up 3%

Brewer SABMiller beat forecasts with a 3% rise in quarterly volumes, boosted by growth in Africa and Asia and an improving Europe offsetting a fall in Colombia, which was hit by the heaviest rain for 50 years.

The London-based brewer of Miller Lite, Peroni and Grolsch said on Tuesday that beer price rises helped boost its quarterly revenue by 6%, adding its financial performance was in line with its own expectations.

Strong volume growth in Asia and Africa offset volume dips in both North and South America in its October to December third quarter, which is heavily dependent on summer beer drinking in the southern markets of South Africa and Latin America.

The big surprise came in Europe where quarterly volumes were flat after forecasts for a continued fall. Growth in Britain and Ukraine helped offset falls in Russia and the Czech Republic.

Emerging markets
The brewer, which earns more than 80% of its profits in emerging markets like Colombia, South Africa, Poland and China, is seeing a recovery in many of these market, while mature markets are held back by high unemployment hitting consumption.

The second-largest brewer in the world after Anheuser-Busch InBev, SABMiller said it has benefited in the quarter from lower costs of certain raw materials.

The group, which also brews Castle, Snow, and Pilsner Urquell, said underlying volumes rose 12% both in Africa and Asia, were 3% up in South Africa, unchanged in Europe and down 1% in Latin America.

In the United States, where it formed the MillerCoors joint venture in July 2008, sales to retailers fell 2,5% in testing industry and economic conditions.

The group added that its soft drinks volumes for the quarter were up 5% on an underlying basis. — Reuters