Megabrew deal: AB InBev raises dividend as it confirms it's on track to complete SAB Miller deal

Catherine Neilan
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Meantime is poised to be sold to Asahi (Source: Getty)

AB InBev's share price fell more than two per cent this morning, as it revealed it had missed expectations for its fourth quarter results, despite the Belgian-Brazilian group raising its dividend.

However the deal to create the world's largest brewer is on track to be completed in the second half of the year.

The figures

Revenues were up seven per cent in the fourth quarter to $12bn, and up 6.3 per cent over the full year, while earnings rose 6.6 per cent to $4.3bn, coming in slightly below expectations.

AB InBev said its revenue growth was driven by a move towards "premiumization".

Full year EBITDA climbed 7.8 per cent to $16.8bn, with margins up 55 basis points, but profits fell slightly from $8.87bn to $8.5bn.

However, AB InBev is proposing a dividend of €2 a share, creating a total dividend of €3.6 per share - up 20 per cent on last year.

Why it's interesting

The MegaBrew deal is still going through, and this is prompting AB InBev to sell off large chunks of its business.

Earlier this month, the group announced that it had received a binding offer from Asahi to buy Peroni, Grolsch, and Meantime for $ 2.55bn, assuming the Sab Miller deal goes through. AB InBev said it had "commenced the relevant employee information and consultation processes".

Leaving the deal aside, AB InBev says it will continue to grow ahead of inflation on an organic basis, with sales improving in the US.

However it has warned that Brazil and China could both be challenging.

In Brazil, the group said net revenues would grow organically by mid to high single digits, "after an expected weak first quarter due to a tough comparable".

In China, industry volumes will "remain under pressure in FY16", it said, although added: "we expect our own volumes to perform better than the industry, driven by our premium and super premium brands".

What AB InBev said

The drinks giant has no small ambitions, saying it wants to build an "enduring company for the long term, not just for the next decade, but for the next 100 years".

"With our focus and attention firmly fixed on the long-term, we executed on a series of commercial priorities to keep our business growing, relevant to our consumers and respected by our stakeholders for years to come. We strengthened the connections between our brands and consumers around the world, and expanded our efforts to invest in the wellbeing of the communities in which we live and work. We also announced a proposed transaction with SABMiller to create the first truly global brewer," the management said.

"Through strong, healthy organic growth, enhanced by strategic combinations, we continue to work towards realising our Dream: to be the Best Beer Company Bringing People Together For a Better World."

In short

All eyes will be on the Belgian-Brazilian group until the SABMiller deal goes through, but an increased dividend will please investors for now.

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