July 10, 2020 / 8:30 AM / 25 days ago

Carlsberg expects better than forecast in first-half operating profit, shares jump

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish brewer Carlsberg (CARLb.CO) said on Friday it expects a smaller than forecast drop in first-half operating profit as its key Chinese market rebounded strongly during the second quarter, sending its shares up 5%.

FILE PHOTO: The Calsberg's logo is seen on the jacket of an employee at the development center of the Carlsberg group at the K2 Kronenbourg beer brewery in Obernai, France, September 12, 2019. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler/File Photo

The world’s third biggest brewer after Anheuser Busch InBev (ABI.BR) and Heineken (HEIN.AS) said it expects a decline in operating profit of 9% in the first six months of the year, compared to analysts’ consensus forecast for a 26% fall, according to a Jeffries note to clients.

“Although government lockdowns are gradually being lifted, the sales development across our regions in the coming months continues to be volatile and uncertain, not least during the important summer months,” it said, keeping its full-year guidance suspended.

Shares in Carlsberg are up 40% since a trough in mid-March and were trading 4.8% higher at 0819 GMT.

“Carlsberg is navigating the crisis well,” Jefferies analysts said in the note. “Beyond 2020 and the easy comparison in 2021, which should be a summer of sport, Carlsberg remains an attractive investment proposition.”

In a market update ahead of full results due on Aug. 13, the company said second quarter sales fell 15% with volumes down 8%.

However, profits in China, its biggest market, had improved in the second quarter.

“Our Chinese business rebounded strongly in the second quarter,” Carlsberg said in a statement.

Western Europe had a very difficult start to the quarter, but saw “improved performance” towards the end of the period as bars and restaurants reopened and due to warm weather in June, the brewer said.

The price/mix, which indicates whether the company sold more or less of its expensive beer, continued to be negatively impacted across markets, it said.

Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; editing by David Evans and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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