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AB InBev boosts profit on higher prices, Latam drinkers

The Belgium-based brewer repeated its forecast that core profit would rise by between 4 percent and 8 percent this year. Photo: Reuters

The Belgium-based brewer repeated its forecast that core profit would rise by between 4 percent and 8 percent this year. Photo: Reuters

Published Jul 28, 2022

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Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, reported higher than expected second-quarter earnings today as its Latin American consumers drank more and it pushed through higher prices globally.

The brewer of Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois said core profit – earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation – rose 7.2 percent on a like-for-like basis, beating the 5.6 percent gain expected by analysts in a company compiled poll.

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The Belgium-based brewer repeated its forecast that core profit would rise by between 4 percent and 8 percent this year, with revenue rising faster than profit.

AB InBev is facing higher costs for commodities and beer deliveries, though much of it is already hedged.

Chief executive Michel Doukeris said, based on the picture today, costs for next year would not rise as steeply as in 2022. He also said there were no strong signals for now that high global inflation was impacting beer consumption.

“We always talk this idea that beer is an affordable luxury, especially premium beers. I think people are trading out or trading down much more in other categories at this moment than in beverage, than in beer… Beer remains very resilient,” he said.

Despite the stronger operations, AB InBev’s shares were down around 4 percent in early afternoon trading, although were still some 7 percent above the level they dropped to in June.

Broker Jefferies pointed to the company’s failure to narrow its outlook, saying that it had expected more muted share price reaction if this resulted in no upgrades of analyst estimates for the year.

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Trevor Stirling of Bernstein described the results as “solid” but said there were question marks as to why underlying earnings per share were actually below market expectations.

Gains were most pronounced for Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and its other Latin America markets, with the consumption of beer and other drinks up by more than 8 percent and double-digit percentage increases of profits.

By contrast, volumes in North America and in its Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) unit were slightly lower, although many consumers switched to higher priced “premium” beers. AB InBev faced floods in South Africa, hitting production and supply chain problems elsewhere on the continent. Profits in the EMEA unit though were still higher than a year earlier.

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AB InBev’s Asia-Pacific operations also suffered lower volumes, principally due to Covid-19 restrictions in China, albeit with a recovery in June as the restrictions eased.

BUSINESS REPORT

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