Strong demand in Africa and Middle East boosts Heineken

HEINEKEN shares touched a four-year high yesterday after quarterly results showed a surge in sales.

The maker of Amstel, Foster’s and Strongbow reported a 4.7 per cent rise in volume sales on a like-for-like basis, more than double the growth that had been expected. Sales rose particularly sharply in Africa and the Middle East.

Revenues were also up 6.8 per cent as the Dutch company’s premium brands did well.

However, Europe’s largest beermaker was hit by increased costs in high-inflation markets, as well as a price rise in raw materials, which resulted in a slight decline in operating profit before exceptional items.

The company also faced a €23m (£18.8m) impairment charge for the non-completion of a planned sale of a Chinese brewer.

It did not specify exactly how far operating profit had fallen but said it was not changing its 2012 outlook and that it would offset higher costs with a €500m cost savings plan set to reach completion in 2014.

Its shares closed 2.5 per cent higher at €43.35.