SABMiller loses its fizz in crucial growth markets

LAGER giant SABMiller’s progress in key emerging markets has slowed in recent months, taking the shine off strong growth in Europe, the company said yesterday.

The Peroni and Grolsch maker said the amount of beer it has sold rose four per cent year-on-year in the company’s last six months. However, more significant was that lager volume sales in Latin America and Africa were significantly lower than expectations, showing that growth in SABMiller’s most important markets is slipping.

Latin American lager sales grew four per cent, while Africa was up six per cent, below estimates of 5.5 and 8.5 per cent respectively, which the company put down to “weaker consumer sentiment”. Latin America is SABMiller’s largest market, accounting for a third of sales.

European growth was more positive, with the volume of lager sold up nine per cent, although this was partly down to price reductions and the effect of Euro 2012

Performance at the firm’s US arm, MillerCoors, was also disappointing. Sales slipped 2.4 per cent in the period due to less demand for cheaper beers and the firm’s Miller Lite brand.

SABMiller’s slowing growth disappointed the City, sending shares down around 1.5 per cent in trading yesterday. The company will not release full sales figures until November but said revenue grew eight per cent when currency fluctuations, disposals and acquisitions were stripped out. Soft drink volumes were up six per cent.

The firm, which gains around 70 per cent of sales from fast-growing markets, saw one in four shareholders revolt over pay in July.