Anheuser-Busch InBev NV reported fourth- quarter earnings that missed analysts’ estimates as sales volume dropped, underlining the need for the brewer to complete its acquisition of SABMiller Plc to expand in markets like Africa.
Adjusted operating income rose 6.6 per cent on an organic basis to $4.31 billion, the company, which has agreed to acquire SABMiller for about $100 billion, said in a statement Thursday. Analysts expected a 9.2 per cent gain, according to the consensus. The US beer market should improve this year, while Brazil will have a weak first quarter and the economy will be challenging this year, the brewer said. AB InBev also forecast it will outperform the market in China, where volume will remain under pressure.
A 15-year slump in the U.S. beer market hasn’t yet ended as drinkers turn to spirits. The brewer is seeking growth via SABMiller, which is strong in emerging markets in Africa and Latin America. AB InBev has also acquired fast-growing craft beer brands including Colorado’s Breckenbridge Brewery to regain share in the US as demand for mainstream beer dries up.
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Revenue per hectoliter should increase organically faster than inflation this year, the Leuven, Belgium-based brewer said.
AB InBev repeated it expects to complete its acquisition of SABMiller in the second half of the year.
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