Heineken share price soars as the Dutch brewer toasts first quarter sales triumph and beats analyst expectations

Francesca Washtell
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Heineken is the world's third largest beer maker (Source: Getty)

Dutch brewer Heineken's share price has soared after the brewer swept ahead of analyst expectations in its first quarter results, where it received one-off sales boosts from the Vietnamese and Chinese New Years and an early Easter.

The figures

Heineken's share price jumped 4.7 per cent to an all-time high of €86.95 this morning after the lager giant reported like-for-like sales growth of seven per cent to 43.5m hectolitres, well above analyst expectations of 2.4 per cent growth.

Sales were driven by the Vietnamese and Chinese New Years in Asia, while an early Easter helped swing sales higher in Europe and North America.

Net profit was down 54 per cent to €265m (£209m), from €579m in 2015, though this was due to a €379m capital gain in the first quarter of last year from the sales of a Mexican packaging unit.

Heineken's volume in the premium segment grew by 4.8 per cent, driven by growth in Brazil, France, Spain, Vietnam, Mexico and the UK.

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Why it's interesting

The brewer is upbeat about the year ahead and has reiterated guidance that it expects stronger sales and profit in 2016. However, it has previously warned on its 2016 outlook, describing an "increasingly challenging external environment".

Heineken has also warned of a slowdown in emerging markets - especially Nigeria - where it generates almost two-thirds of its sales.

Although in Africa consolidated beer volume growth of 4.6 per cent was driven by growth in Nigeria and Ethiopia, the company has warned on Nigeria, noting that better growth in 2016 was "flattered by an easy comparative given the election in the same period last year".

It has also said predicting the coming quarters will be more difficult due to "tough" conditions and will be hit by the weaker consumer environment due to the low global oil price. The company has also warned its Russian market remains "under pressure".

What Heineken said

Chief executive and chairman of the board Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said:

This has been a good first quarter supported by a strong Vietnamese and Chinese New Year period and the earlier timing of Easter. There was good volume growth in Americas and Europe. In Africa, Middle East and Eastern Europe, volume growth reflected easier comparatives in Nigeria, and the region remains challenging.

Our full-year expectations remain unchanged. Adverse currency development continues to weigh on results and foreign exchange markets remain volatile.

In short

Heineken has raced ahead, outstripping analyst expectations in its first quarter earnings with celebration-led boosts in key Asian and European markets, and is promising to toast high growth throughout the rest of 2016.