Heineken sees growth regions outweighing weak Europe

BRUSSELS Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:34am GMT

A woman reaches for a can of Heineken at a restaurant in Bangkok July 20,2012. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

A woman reaches for a can of Heineken at a restaurant in Bangkok July 20,2012.

Credit: Reuters/Sukree Sukplang

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Heineken (HEIN.AS), the world's third largest brewer, reported higher than expected 2012 profit on Wednesday on the back of sharply higher earnings from Africa and the Americas and forecast higher volumes and revenue this year.

Europe's largest beer maker said net profit before one-offs rose 1.6 percent on a like-for-like basis to 1.70 billion euros (1.4 billion pounds), above the average expectation in a Reuters poll of 1.65 billion euros.

Heineken had previous forecast flat net profit for 2012.

The brewer, which makes Europe's best selling lager Heineken, along with Tiger, Sol and Strongbow, said it expected continued volume and revenue growth this year.

"The higher growth regions of Africa, Latin America and Asia Pacific are expected to more than offset volume weakness in European markets affected by continued economic uncertainty and government-led austerity measures," it said.

After taking full control of Tiger beer maker Asia Pacific Breweries last year, well over half of Heineken's operating profit comes from emerging markets, similar to that of AB InBev (ABI.BR).

However, of the remainder, most is from European markets, where austerity has accelerated a general decline in beer drinking.

Heineken said it expected marketing and selling expenses as a percentage of revenue to remain broadly stable in 2013 and input costs to rise only slightly.

The company also said it expected to achieve 525 million euros of cost savings under its TCM2 programme from 2012 to 2014, with 25 million euros of gains from the acquisition of APB now added to its initial target.

(Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop, editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)

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