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Brazilian boost for AB InBev

AB InBev confirmed it expects to sell more beer this year than in 2009 as the world’s largest brewer announced mixed fourth-quarter earnings boosted by a sharp rise in sales in Brazil.

The maker of Stella Artois, Budweiser and Becks lagers said it anticipates only single-digit growth in the first quarter of the current fiscal year, before increasing over the course of the year.

This is primarily due to the fact it will face difficult comparisons with a strong performance in the US last year and poor Russian sales because of Q4 stocking due to an impending tax hike.

Earnings before deductions rose from $2.81 billion to $3.11bn – less than many analysts predicted.

However, revenues in the fourth quarter rose 3.7% to $9.3bn as the quantity of beer sold globally by the brewer unexpectedly increased.

Beer sales in northern Latin America rose 11.6% on Q3, boosted by Brazil, where the brewer increased its market share 1.2 percentage points to 68.7%,

However, volumes fell 2.7% in North America, where the brewer generates about 45% of its earnings.

“We see no improvement in the operating environment today,” said chief financial officer Felipe Dutra.

“In the US, unemployment remains high, and the young population has been disproportionately affected by the economic crisis.”

Alan Lodge, 05.03.2010 

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