SABMiller Quarterly Beer Sales Improve on Chinese Rebound

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SABMiller Plc, the world’s second-biggest brewer, reported fourth-quarter beer sales that beat estimates because of growing consumption in Africa and a rebound in China.

Lager volume rose 2 percent on an organic basis in the three months ended March 31, the London-based brewer said in a statement Thursday, compared with the 0.4 percent increase expected by seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Net producer revenue, a measure excluding excise taxes, increased 4 percent for the full year, below analyst estimates.

The shares rose 1.7 percent to 3,647 pence at 8.02 a.m. in London, taking the advance to 8.5 percent this year.

“In South Africa there is good product innovation coming through, so overall it’s a good update the market will like,” De Wet Schutte, an analyst at Avior Capital Markets, said by phone from Cape Town on Thursday. “It did warn though that the strong dollar and currency translation will dampen earnings.”

The maker of Grolsch and Pilsner Urquell beer is grappling with a rising dollar and a slowdown in Asia, as it has the largest exposure to emerging markets of any global brewer. Chief Executive Officer Alan Clark is looking to gain drinkers in its traditional home market of Africa, and expanding its soft-drink business to offset sluggish growth of lagers.

“Our topline performance was strong in the final quarter, driven by double digit revenue growth in Africa and sustained growth in Latin America,” Clark said in the statement. “Asia Pacific also returned to growth during the last three months of the year as lager volumes in China returned to growth.”

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