London - Strong growth in Africa and Latin America helped
global brewer SABMiller [JSE:SAB] offset a fall in beer drinking in Europe and
North America, as the Peroni and Grolsch beermaker beat forecasts with a 12%
rise in full-year earnings.
“Trading conditions are expected to be broadly unchanged
with further growth in our developing markets but no more than modest
improvement in consumer spending in some more developed economies,” SABMiller said
The world’s second biggest brewer earns 70% of its profit
from fast-growing emerging markets, which helps insulate it from tough mature
markets where hard-pressed consumers are economising at the bar and drinking
less beer at home.
The London-based brewer, which bought Foster’s in December
with its near-half share of the Australian beer market, was boosted by strong
markets in Colombia and Peru in Latin America and in countries such as Tanzania
and Zambia in Africa.
SABMiller said input costs, such as for barley, glass and
aluminium, will tick higher this year to see a mid-single digit percent rise.
Its 2011/12 operating margin rose 10 basis points to 17.9% after the group
forecast broadly flat margins.
The brewer, which has expanded rapidly over the past two
decades from its South African roots, reported adjusted earnings per share of
214.8 US cents for its year to end-March, compared with a company-compiled
consensus of 209 cents.
It raised its year dividend 12% to 91c.
Revenue rose 11% to $31.4bn and operating profit, or EBITA,
was up 12% at $5.6bn, while underlying annual beer volumes rose 3%.
Among its rivals, world No. 1 Anheuser-Busch InBev has been
upbeat about its two key markets of the United States and Brazil, while
Europe-focused Carlsberg and Heineken have turned more positive after
first-quarter trading despite tough trading in the eurozone region.
SABMiller came under some criticism last month when it
announced that chief executive Graham Mackay would move up to become executive
chairperson, flying in the face of a British corporate governance code which
says chief executives should not go on to become chairperson.