AB InBev reports revenue and profit growth in 9-months despite lower beer volumes

Hero lager

Anheuser-Busch InBev reported revenue and profit growth in the third quarter and nine months to the end of September despite volume declines.

Revenue in the third quarter grew by 2.7% to $13.1bn but fell by 4.8% in the nine months to $39bn, helped by ongoing premiumization and revenue management initiatives, but held back by advances in smart affordability strategy.

Total volumes in the third quarter declined by 0.5% but grew by 1% in nine months. Solid growth from markets such as Mexico, South Africa and Colombia was more than offset by declines in China and the US, both primarily driven by shipment phasing impacts.

The company’s combined global premium brands, Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona, grew by 4.1% globally in the third quarter and by 6.4% in nine months.

Net finance cost declined from $1.79bn in the third quarter to $677m, and by $2.04bn in nine months, from $4.7bn in the previous year. The reduction was as a result of a mark-to-market gain of $549 million in the third quarter linked to the hedging of its share-based payment programs.

By market, the company said that Nigeria volumes continued to grow even with a very challenging comparable following accelerated growth last year after the opening of its fourth brewery, adding that it continues to see strong potential for its brand portfolio in the country, led by Trophy, Hero and Budweiser. The company notes that Tanzania and Mozambique saw lower volumes just as Zambia grew in the double-digits and Uganda returned to growth.

South Africa recorded strong top-line performance in the third quarter, delivering double-digit revenue growth and high single digit volume growth despite continued challenging macroeconomic environment, noting that it benefitted from a favorable comparable. In the nine months, revenue grew by mid-single digits with volumes up in the low single-digits.

In the United States, revenue grew 0.2% in the quarter and by 1.2% in nine months. The growth was helped by premiumization strategy and revenue management initiatives.

Revenue in Canada declined by low single digits in Q3, as volumes declined primarily due to a weak beer industry.

Mexico saw low double-digits in Q3, driven by high single digit volume growth, and by high single digits in nine months, with mid-single digit volume growth.

Colombia delivered a very strong quarter with revenue growth of mid-single digits, resulting in the company’s best quarterly volume growth in the country since the merger with SABMiller closed in October 2016. Revenue in nine months grew by mid-single digits.

In Brazil, the company reported 1.5% revenue growth in Q3, with volume declining 0.6%, caused by impact of the price increase it took in the quarter, which was amplified by simultaneous competitor discounting and a challenging macroeconomic environment, in which real consumer disposable income remains under pressure. However, nine months saw 9.1% revenue growth, helped by 5.2% volume lift.

Argentina grew volumes by mid-single digits driven by shipment phasing ahead of a scheduled price increase in October 2019 and benefitting from a favorable comparable. Revenues grew by double-digits in line with inflation, despite the macroeconomic environment remaining challenging.

Europe grew volumes by low single digits on top of a difficult comparable as the company cycled the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Revenue declined by just over 1%, driven largely by adverse brand mix as the company expands its portfolio into new points on the price spectrum.

China saw 0.2% revenue decline, driven by 5.9% decline in volumes in Q3. The decline in volume resulted from shipment phasing into Q2 ahead of activations combined with softness in the nightlife channel.

South Korea had a very soft quarter with declines in both revenue and volume, impacted by industry weakness as well as a challenging competitive environment following a price increase in April. The company said it recently made a decision to roll back the price increase implemented earlier in the year to revitalize the domestic beer industry in light of the macroeconomic downturn.

Profit attributable to equity shareholders of the company in Q3 rose by 59% to $2.4bn, from $1.5bn, and by 48% to $7.1bn, from $4.8bn in nine months, helped by premiumisation and revenue management initiatives.

AB InBev revived and successfully listed its Asia business unit known as Budweiser Brewing Company APAC Limited on the Honk Kong Exchange, raising US$5.75bn in the process.

The company notes that it has completed delivery of the US$3.2bn synergies and cost savings on a constant currency from its acquisition of SABMiller in August 2016.

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