SABMiller beer sales up in China

13:25, November 09, 2009      

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For the world's No 2 brewer, SABMiller, sales declines in Europe this year due to the global economic slowdown were cushioned by double-digit growth in China.

The London-based maker of Miller Lite, Peroni and Grolsch said in a recent statement that half-year underlying sales volumes through September fell 1 percent.

A 12 percent rise in the world's biggest beer market, China cushioned dips in Europe, Latin America and South Africa, the company said.

Most forecasts in a poll of analysts by Reuters ranged from flat to a 1 percent decline, as the brewer's volumes continued to suffer from price rises pushed through to offset sharp price increases in commodities such as barley, glass and aluminum.

The second-ranked brewer behind Anheuser-Busch InBev said its financial performance was in line with its own expectations, and that revenues were supported by the price increases taken in its previous financial year.

The brewer, which earns nearly 90 percent of its profits from emerging markets like South Africa, Colombia, Poland and China, is seen by analysts as the front-runner to buy Mexico's second biggest brewer FEMSA Cerveza, the maker of Sol and Tecate beers, for around $7.5 billion.

Elsewhere in the sector, Anheuser-Busch Inbev recently said it had agreed to sell breweries in nine eastern European countries to CVC Capital Partners for an initial $2.23 billion, passing its target for divestments since its merger a year ago.

SABMiller, which also brews Castle, Snow, and Pilsner Urquell beers, said beer volumes dipped 1 percent in Latin America, fell 6 percent in Europe and slipped 3 percent in South Africa, while Asian volumes rose 9 percent boosted by strong growth in China and its Africa region was up 3 percent.

In the United States, where it formed the MillerCoors joint venture in July 2008, sales to retailers were off 1 percent in the half year, with both key brands Miller Lite and Coors Light seeing volumes down.

SABMiller was giving a first-half trading update ahead of its half-year results that will be reported on Nov 19.

Source:Xinhua
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