SABMiller beats forecasts with emerging-markets boost

Strong growth in the emerging markets of Africa, Asia and Latin America helped brewing giant SABMiller beat forecasts with a 19% rise in annual earnings, while Europe and North America proved tougher.

The world’s second-largest brewer and maker of Miller Lite, Peroni and Grolsch said its emerging markets, which provide over 80% of its earnings, recovered strongly while tough economies in mature markets held back any upturn in beer sales.

“While consumer demand is likely to continue growing in most developing markets, there are uncertainties in the outlook for inflation and the pace of recovery in Europe and North America,” said chief executive Graham Mackay in a statement on Thursday.

He added that beer price rises will be considered selectively across markets taking into account an expected “moderate” rise in raw material input costs and competition.

The London-based company reported adjusted earnings per share of 191,5 US cents for the year to end-March, above 189,5 cents from a company-compiled consensus and also a Reuters SmartEstimate of 186,2 cents.

The annual dividend rose 19% to 81 cents a share.

“We expect these solid results at least to hold the SABMiller share price at its current level, more than justifying the premium rating to the sector with a very impressive rate of organic growth,” said analyst Matthew Webb at house broker JP Morgan Cazenove.

SABMiller shares were up 0,57% at £22,79 at 7.12am GMT.

The brewer stuck with its inflation outlook to see the group’s cost of goods including barley, aluminium and glass rise by low single digit percentage in its current year to March 2012.

The group, which also brews Castle, Snow and Aquila beers, declined to comment on potential takeover targets such as Australia’s top brewer and Brazil’s second biggest brewer, Schincariol.

Group revenues rose 7% to $28,3-billion and operating profits or Ebita were up 15% to $5-billion helped by strong profits growth in Latin America, Africa, Asia and also North America, due partly to price rises there and cost savings at its MillerCoors joint venture.

Other brewers have seen improving trading, with Heineken growing volumes in the first quarter, Carlsberg seeing its key Russian market recovering and Anheuser-Busch InBev saying beer volumes will improve in the second quarter. — Reuters

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