AB InBev suffers weak start to year as first quarter revenue decline 10%

Anheuser-Busch InBev, said unfavorable currency effects, one-off financing costs and weak business in Brazil, one of its biggest markets caused earnings in the first quarter to fall 10%.

The maker of Stella Artois, Budweiser, Corona, among others, said that revenue for the quarter fell 10% to $9.4bn, from $10.453bn a year earlier.

Net profit also fell to $844m, down from $2.3 billion a year earlier, largely due to adverse exchange rates for Latin American currencies and one-off financing costs, including increased interest expenses for bonds issued to finance its merger with SABMiller.

Brazil, where AB InBev controls two-thirds of the beer market, contracted at its sharpest rate since 1990, the company said, adding that it lost market share in the country as beer volumes declined by 10 percent because of a more difficult economic environment compared with last year.

“Brazil faced one of its most challenging quarters in many years,” said chief financial officer Felipe Dutra in a conference call. He wouldn’t say how much market share the brewer lost in Brazil but said he expects it only to be a short-term phenomenon.

The brewer expects revenue in Brazil to rebound and grow by “mid-to-high single digits” for the full year.

“We are making good progress towards obtaining the necessary regulatory clearance for the proposed combination with SABMiller,” the company said.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization rose to $3.46bn on the same basis.

The company said it expected overall organic revenue per hectoliter to grow faster than inflation for the full year. It added that the weak performance in the first quarter was a one-off, with a shrinking economy, high unemployment and low consumer confidence in Brazil more than offsetting improvements in the USA and Mexico.

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