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UPDATE 2-Heineken cuts profit outlook after eastern Europe slide
October 23, 2013 / 6:49 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 2-Heineken cuts profit outlook after eastern Europe slide

* Sees 2013 net profit decline, from previous flat forecast

* Q3 consolidated beer volumes 48.3 vs 50.2 mln hectolitres consensus

* Q3 consolidate revenue 5.18 bln euros vs 5.41 bln consensus

* Sharp volume drop in eastern Europe

* Heineken shares down 4 pct, Carlsberg, ABI also down

By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Heineken, the world’s third largest brewer by volume, lowered its guidance for full-year profit after beer sales in eastern European dropped sharply and slipped in Brazil and in its large African markets.

The group, which makes Europe’s best-selling Heineken lager, Sol, Tiger and Strongbow cider, said on Wednesday it now expected net profit before one-offs to fall by a low single-digit percentage this year on a like-for-like basis.

It previously forecast that net profit would be broadly unchanged from that of 2012. It added that the stronger euro against a number of developing market currencies would have a negative 40 million euro ($55.09 million) impact.

Heineken said the weakness of the beer market in central and eastern Europe and difficulties in key developing markets, including Brazil, Nigeria, Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo, led to lower than expected lager sales.

Heineken shares fell by as much as 4.0 percent to 51.07 euros, making them among the weakest performers in the FTSEurofirst 300 index and breaking a two-week rally in which they had gained 6.4 percent.

Shares in global leader Anheuser-Busch InBev, the market leader in Brazil, were down 1.1 percent and those in world number four Carlsberg, the dominant player in Russia, were off 2.0 percent.

“Western Europe could not make up for weakness in Eastern Europe and the Americas. The profit warning is partly due to volumes, but also currencies. All in all it’s not good news,” said Wim Hoste, analyst at KBC Securities, after cutting his target price for Heineken to 58 euros from 60.

“The markets are down a little, but you can see the fallout for others, such as AB InBev,” he added.

Consolidated beer volumes slipped 3 percent on a like-for-like basis to 48.3 million hectolitres, lower than the 50.2 million hectolitres average expected in a Reuters poll of seven banks and brokers.

Consolidated revenue was up just 0.2 percent to 5.18 billion euros, again lower than the 5.41 billion euros forecast in the Reuters poll.

Heineken, the largest seller of beer in Europe, posted an 8 percent drop in beer sales in central and eastern Europe, with weak consumer spending in Russia, Romania and Greece and wet weather depressing drinking in September.

Inflation, tight credit and unemployment hit Nigeria and volumes fell in Egypt and Congo due to unrest. In Brazil, slowed growth and stubbornly high inflation, leading to rising interest rates, have weakened consumer spending there.

However, volumes improved by 1 percent in western Europe, largely due to a hot, dry summer albeit after a wretched spring.

Elsewhere, volumes only rose in the Asia-Pacific region, with increased beer drinking in China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam more than making up for lower sales in India due to a prolonged monsoon and regulatory changes in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

Heineken has a greater share of the sluggish western European market than its rivals, but has also boosted its emerging market presence with expansion into Mexico in 2010 and its buy-out of a joint venture partner in Asia last year.

SABMiller, the world number two, last week reported a 4 percent increase in first-half revenue, driven by growth in Latin America and Africa.

AB InBev reports third-quarter earnings next Thursday and Carlsberg’s figures come out on Nov. 13.

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