Poor weather outweighs soccer boost for Carlsberg
COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish brewer Carlsberg (CARLb.CO) missed quarterly profit expectations as poor weather hit western Europe's thirst for beer, outweighing a boost from the Euro 2012 soccer tournament.
Carlsberg kept its full-year earnings outlook though, saying on Wednesday it still expected operating profit before special items to be at the same level as in 2011 - 9.82 billion Danish crowns ($1.6 billion).
The world's fourth-largest brewer, whose brands include Baltika, Carlsberg and Tuborg, said volumes in northern and western Europe fell 5 percent in the second quarter, eclipsing growth of 1 percent in Russia, another key market.
"This (fall) was a little more than expected with the Euro 2012 taking place in Q2 and was driven by very bad weather," Carlsberg said.
Big brewers have been relying on emerging market growth and price rises to offset sluggish European growth and tough competition in more mature markets.
While some rivals, such as global brewer SABMiller (SAB.L), have seen emerging markets in Africa and Latin America offset a slow Europe, Carlsberg is heavily exposed to eastern Europe and Russia where growth has stalled.
"Northern and western Europe is the biggest worry ," Alm. Brand analyst Stig Nymann said. "There is an effect from the weather but, otherwise, this could be a sign that the economic crisis is felt on sales of the more expensive brands."
Northern and western European revenue accounted for 55 percent of total group sales, while eastern Europe accounted for 33 percent.
Carlsberg shares were down 2.8 percent by 0735 GMT.
Second-quarter operating profit fell 6 percent to 3.47 billion Danish crowns, missing all estimates in a Reuters poll in which the average forecast was 3.84 billion.
Revenue rose 4.5 percent to 19.59 billion crowns, in line with a forecast for 19.65 billion.
"Overall, this is not an ostentatious result," Sydbank analyst Morten Imsgaard said. "What Carlsberg delivers in Russia is acceptable. The company managed to shift consumers towards the more expensive brands."
While Russia has, for many years, been one of Carlsberg's main growth drivers, growth there has been hurt by persistently tighter alcohol regulation and higher beer taxes as the country tries to curb alcohol abuse.
Carlsberg said its Russian market share rose to 37.3 percent in the second quarter from 37.0 percent in the first quarter.
SABMiller said three weeks ago that soccer fever helped it return to growth in Europe as the Euro 2012 tournament - held in Poland and Ukraine - drove Polish beer sales and saw overall quarterly volume beat forecasts.
($1 = 6.0406 Danish crowns)
(Additional reporting by Teis Jensen; Editing by David Cowell and Dan Lalor)
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