Carlsberg takes hit from Russian tax payments

DANISH brewer Carlsberg blamed a sharp drop in fourth-quarter profit on an excise duty rise in its biggest market Russia and falling Eastern European sales.

The world’s fourth biggest brewer said yesterday that organic operating profit growth declined significantly in its key Eastern European market, although it was strong in Northern and Western Europe and Asia in the fourth-quarter.

Despite the drop, Carlsberg’s B shares rose by 0.8 per cent to close at 566 kroner following the below-forecast figures.

Beer volumes in Eastern Europe declined organically by nine per cent, mainly driven by destocking in the first quarter of 2010, and significant price increases in Russia following a 200 per cent excise duty increase from 1 January, 2010. That had led distributors to build stocks at the end of 2009, ahead of the duty increase, the company said.