AB InBev exceeds pre-pandemic revenue but profit underwhelms

The brewer of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona did benefit from increased beer consumption across the Americas, in Europe and South Africa

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, underwhelmed on profit as costs increased and despite driving second-quarter revenue to above pre-pandemic levels.

The brewer reported lower core profits in its two biggest markets, the United States and Brazil, as cans and distribution became more expensive.

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AB InBev retained its forecast that earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) would grow by between 8% and 12% this year, with revenue increasing at a faster pace.

In the second quarter, that profit figure rose 31% on a like-for-like basis to $4.85 billion, against consensus expectations for a 35% increase, according to a company-compiled consensus. The figure was inflated by $226 million of Brazilian tax credits.

Analysts at Citi said, excluding that, core profit clearly missed estimates, and the lack of upgrade to the forecast was another negative.

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AB InBev shares were down 5.6% at 54.86 euros at 0735 GMT, placing them among the weakest performers in the FTSEurofirst300 index of leading European shares, meaning they are now also lower in the year to date.

The company stressed its outlook reflected its current assessment of the scale and magnitude of the pandemic and could be subject to change.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BUD ANHEUSER-BUSCH INBEV 57.75 +0.63 +1.10%

In a clear sign that the pandemic and related restrictions are not over, South Africa instituted a new alcohol sales ban for four weeks from late June and ongoing curbs in South Korea led to lower beer sales there.

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A year on from its worst quarter of the COVID-19 crisis, the brewer of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona did though benefit from increased beer consumption across the Americas, in Europe and South Africa, including a leap of more than 50% in Colombia.

Only in China, which moved out of its coronavirus lockdown earlier in 2020, were beer volumes lower.

Michel Doukeris, the former North America zone head who took over as chief executive from fellow Brazilian Carlos Brito on July 1, said revenue in the April-June period was 3.2% higher than in the same period of 2019.

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The world's second largest brewer, Heineken, reports its first-half results on Monday, with global number three Carlsberg on Aug. 18.

 (Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Anil D'Silva)