Profit down for Budweiser maker AB InBev
Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world's largest brewer, said Wednesday that profit fell 4.9 percent in the fourth quarter due to higher financing costs, and it forecast weak first quarter sales volumes in the United States and Brazil.
The maker of Budweiser, Bud Light, Stella Artois and Beck's said net profit was $1.76 billion, down from $1.85 billion in the same period a year ago. Exchange rate-linked losses in the fourth quarter of 2012 and gains on derivatives a year earlier caused a combined $400 million downward swing that wiped out savings made through cost cuts.
The company managed to offset a dip in sales volumes in the fourth quarter by hiking prices, leading to an 8.8 percent rise in revenue.
Over the whole of 2012, it said sales volumes had grown in the U.S., its most profitable market, for the first time since 2008 and "market share is showing signs of stabilizing."
However, it expects weak first quarter volumes in the U.S. as consumers there have less disposable income and the weather has been bad. It also expects soft first quarter results in Brazil, where it has a 68.5 percent market share with brands Skol, Brahma and Antarctica, due to an early carnival and wet weather.
Sales volumes in China, the company's third-largest market, grew 1.9 percent and AB InBev said it gained market share in the fourth quarter, with Budweiser becoming the best-selling "premium" beer in the country. AB InBev expects better growth in China this year.
More than half of Budweiser sales now take place outside the U.S., the company said.