Boom in Asia drives profit at SABMiller

STRONG growth in the emerging markets of Africa, Asia and Latin America helped brewing giant SABMiller beat forecasts with a 19 per cent rise in annual earnings while Europe and North America proved tougher.

The world’s second-largest brewer and maker of Miller Lite, Peroni and Grolsch said trading in its emerging markets, which provide over 80 per cent of its earnings, were improving, with Africa and Asia leading and Latin America back in growth.

Group revenues rose seven per cent to $28.3bn (£17.5bn) and operating profits or EBITA were up 15 per cent to $5bn.

Chief executive Graham Mackay added a note of caution for Europe and North America, highlighting the uncertainty in the outlook for inflation and the pace of recovery, especially with high levels of unemployment in markets like the United States.

“Africa and Asia are trucking along as if the world financial crisis had not happened, Latin America is less bullish but is back in growth, the US shows no signs of recovery – not worse or better – while Europe is getting better slowly,” he said.

He added that beer price rises would be made selectively across markets, taking into account an expected “moderate” rise in raw material input costs, increased competition and its aim to make beer more affordable in some markets like Colombia.

Meanwhile the annual dividend rose 19 per cent to 81 cents a share.

“We expect these solid results at least to hold the SABMiller share price at its current level, more than justifying the premium rating to the sector with a very impressive rate of organic growth,” said analyst Matthew Webb at house broker JP Morgan Cazenove.