SABMiller Beer Volume Returns to Growth on Emerging Markets

  • Latin America, Africa help boost beer shipments by 1%
  • Brewer advances trading statement because of AB InBev talks

SABMiller Plc, the brewer that’s in takeover talks with Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, said beer volume returned to growth in the second quarter, helped by Africa and Latin America.

Lager shipments rose 1 percent in the three months through September, the company said Tuesday in a statement, an acceleration from the 1 percent decline in the first quarter. That missed the 4 percent uptick expected by analysts at Nomura. The company said it advanced its statement because of the negotiations, without commenting on how they’re progressing. The stock fell as much as 2.4 percent in early London trading after The New York Post reported SABMiller Chairman Jan du Plessis is leaning toward fighting a bid.

Beer volumes rose in Latin America and Africa, markets that combined account for about half its revenue. Those regions would strengthen AB InBev’s growth prospects as demand for mainstream beers and consumption in North America wanes. Sales to U.S. retailers fell 2 percent in the period, hurt by declines at Coors Light and Miller High Life.

“The shares are trading down because the market is awaiting ABI’s next move and perhaps thinks it will come a few days later than originally thought,” Eddy Hargreaves, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity, said by phone.

Since AB InBev’s intention to pursue a takeover of SABMiller was disclosed on Sept. 16, there has been informal contact between the companies, two people familiar with the matter have told Bloomberg News. Any deal could value the smaller, London-listed brewer at more than $100 billion, according to analysts’ estimates.

Revenue on an organic, constant-currency basis in the quarter rose 6 percent, SABMiller said, in line with Nomura’s estimates. The trading statement was originally due Oct. 15, one day after a U.K. regulatory deadline AB InBev has to make an offer or announce it doesn’t intend to proceed. SABMiller can also ask the panel for an extension.

“I don’t think this is a normal type of trading statement, it’s been conveniently brought forward and I don’t think that’s going to be missed by the market given the circumstances,” Javier Gonzalez Lastra, analyst at Berenberg, said in a phone interview.

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