Anheuser-Busch InBev said Thursday that fourth-quarter net profit was pressured by falling emerging market currencies but that it remains on track to take over rival SABMiller this year.
The Belgium-based brewer reported net profit of $2.29 billion for the quarter, down from $2.53 billion a year earlier. Revenue slipped to $10.72 billion over the period from $12 billion, missing analysts' forecasts of $11.11 billion.
It proposed a final dividend of EUR2 a share ($2.20) for 2015, as it did the previous year, in addition to an interim dividend of EUR1.60 a share paid in November.
As in the previous quarter, the company said the weaker Brazilian real and the Mexican peso continued to weigh on earnings.
AB InBev's shares opened 2.2% lower following the earnings announcement.
In the U.S., revenue fell 1% in the quarter to $3.2 billion. The brewer said brand market share in the U.S. for Bud Light, one of the company's most important brands, shrunk by about 40 basis points last year. But the company said it expected the U.S.'s top-selling beer to benefit this year from a fresh visual brand identity and from a continuing campaign that it unveiled at this year's Super Bowl.
The beer company said it still aims to close its $108 billion acquisition of beer rival SABMiller in the second half of the year--a combination that would create the world's largest brewing company.
"Integration planning is well under way but our focus is on getting the necessary regulatory clearances so we can close the transaction in the second-half of the year," Chief Financial Officer Felipe Dutra told reporters on Thursday.
AB InBev has already lined up buyers for some of the SABMiller's assets in a bid to win regulatory approval for the merger in the U.S. and Europe.
Earlier in February, AB InBev said it had an offer from Japan's Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. to buy SABMiller's European brands for about $2.9 billion in cash. The sale would include brands such as Peroni, Grolsch, the British craft brewer Meantime and Miller Brands U.K.
In the U.S. last November, AB InBev sold SABMiller's 58% stake in the MillerCoors joint venture to Molson Coors Brewing Co.--which holds the remaining stake--and the Miller portfolio outside the U.S. for $12 billion. The sale, contingent on the completion of the AB InBev-SABMiller deal, would make Molson the number two brewer in the U.S., after AB InBev.
Mr. Dutra said the company was making progress toward gaining regulatory clearance for the deal on all fronts, including China.
In its next move, AB InBev will likely sell SABMiller's stake in the China beer business CR Snow back to the China Resources Enterprise Ltd., which owns 51% of the joint venture.
The company said it expects revenue in 2016 to "grow organically ahead of inflation" across the world, partly as a result of management initiatives.
Write to Natalia Drozdiak at firstname.lastname@example.org
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