AB InBev ups price to cover slowing sales

ANHEUSER-BUSCH InBev, the world’s largest brewer, lifted core profit in the second quarter as price rises compensated for weak beer sales in its main markets of the US and Brazil.

The group, which makes Stella Artois, Beck’s and Budweiser, said beer volumes in the UK had fallen by 17 per cent after it came up against tough comparative figures a year ago when sales were boosted by the World Cup.

The group’s revenues rose 3.7 per cent to $10bn (£6.1bn) in the quarter, while underlying profits rose six per cent to $3.7bn, boosted by a strong performance in China.

Profits were also helped by lower tax and financing costs and the weakness of the US dollar, since AB InBev generates much of its sales in currencies other than the dollar. In Brazil beer volumes fell 2.6 per cent due to low growth of disposable income.

The Belgium-based company said in western Europe underlying profits rose 1.7 per cent to $387m. The company said that in the UK Stella Artois Cidre was helping to attract new drinkers to cider.

Miller Coors, the second-largest brewer in the US, owned by SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing, also said earlier this month that it managed to increase profit in the second quarter by raising beer prices and cutting costs in the face of a tough market. AB InBev stuck to its forecast that synergy savings would total $2.25bn by the end of 2011.