AB InBev flourishes while rival Carlsberg is hit by Russian woes

Anheuser-Busch InBev and Carlsberg showed sharply contrasting fortunes in the third quarter, the former persuading US and Brazilian beer drinkers to swallow higher prices while the latter suffers a tax-rise hangover in Russia.

AB InBev, the world’s biggest brewer and maker of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck’s, persuaded increasingly affluent Brazilians to drink higher priced beer and US drinkers to stick with or shift to premium brands despite an economic slowdown.

By contrast, Carlsberg, the world number four and producer of Baltika and Tuborg, suffered a double whammy in Russia of lower volumes and higher costs.

Despite its Russian problems, Carlsberg kept its forecast for annual operating profit, excluding some items, of about 1bn kroner (£114m) against expectations for a cut, sending its shares up almost three per cent.

Belgium-based AB InBev said yesterday third-quarter core profit rose 5.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis to $3.97bn (£2.5bn), against a market expectation of $3.88bn.

In October, Heineken reported a surprise increase in volumes and revenues, helped by a rebound in Russia and stronger African markets.