AB InBev stumbles as profit falls on acquisition costs, currency translations

Brewing giant AB InBev said on Friday that net profit for the first 9-months of 2016 fell 86% to $842m, from $6bn it earned last year. Similarly, profits earned in the third quarter dropped nearly 60% to $557m, from $1.38bn in the preceding year. The company’s stock fell by as much as 6%, the most since June. The brewer put the blame on acquisition costs associated with its merger with SABMiller, unfavourable currency exchange losses, and a slowdown in Brazil, its second biggest market.

AB InBev said that revenue for the 9-months to 30 September declined 3.3% to $31bn, from $33bn in the previous year, while its third quarter revenue also fell 2.8% to $11.1bn, from $11.4bn.

The company cut its revenue guidance for the year, stating it no longer expects revenue growth to be ahead of inflation in 2016 due to declining volumes in Brazil. Instead it expects revenue growth to be in line with inflation.

Brazil is going through one of its most difficult years of the past decade and the fourth quarter will be tough,” said chief financial officer, Felipe Dutra to reporters on a call.

The company’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in Brazil fell 33%, driven by currency hedges associated with the cost impact of the Brazilian Real’s devaluation. The brewer expects the slowdown to continue in the fourth quarter and perhaps into middle of 2017. Revenue in Brazil declined 6.8% as the company delayed adjusting prices until the fourth quarter.

Brazil wasn’t the only weak performance in AB InBev’s earnings. In the U.S., total volumes declined 2.5%, while revenue fell 0.3%. Sales to retailers of Budweiser and Bud light dropped by the mid-single digits and the company said its Budweiser brand continued to lose market share.

While the brewer recorded strong volume and revenue growth in Mexico, unfavourable currency hedges eroded earnings in that market.

AB InBev also noted a 2% volume decline in SABMiller Plc’s beer market due to weakness in Africa and a transportation strike in Colombia. However, sales increased 10% over the last quarter to $1.46bn. The brewer notes that SABMiller’s results weren’t merged into AB InBev’s figures, and they excluded joint ventures and assets that were sold or are up for sale

Commenting on the results, AB InBev said, “The combined company will now have operations in virtually every major beer market.

“We will also benefit with a stronger presence in key emerging regions with attractive growth prospects, such as Africa and Latin America,” the company said.

These results would mark the last results as a standalone company for AB InBev since it finalized its acquisition of SABMiller earlier this month.

In Europe, the brewer’s revenue rose 3.1% helped partly by demand for Budweiser and Corona in the U.K. The company reported sales decline in its home market of Belgium.

On a brighter note, the brewer said that the combined revenues of its three global brands – Corona, Stella Artois and Budweiser, grew 8.7% in the third quarter, with Corona posting an impressive 14.8% growth, followed by Stella Artois 12.2% and Budweiser, 4.8%.

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