Two ends of the scale for brewing giants

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Anheuser-Busch InBev and Carlsberg showed sharply contrasting fortunes in the third quarter, the former persuading US and Brazilian beer drinkers to swallow higher prices while the latter suffers a tax-rise hangover in Rus- sia.

AB InBev, the world’s biggest brewer and maker of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck’s persuaded increasingly affluent Brazilians to drink higher priced beer and US drinkers to stick with or shift to premium brands despite an economic slowdown.

By contrast, Carlsberg, the world number four and producer of Baltika and Tuborg, suffered a double whammy in Russia of lower volumes and higher costs, but maintained its full-year profit outlook, against some expectations of a downgrade, sending its battered shares sharply higher.

Belgium-based AB InBev said yesterday third-quarter core profit (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) rose 5.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis to $3.97bn, against a market expectation of $3.88bn.

Total volumes of beer and other drinks fell by 0.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis, but revenue grew by 3.6 per cent.

The brewer, which makes around 80 per cent of its profit from North and South America, said it expects volumes to gain momentum in the fourth quarter.

At the Copenhagen-based brewer, third-quarter operating profit tumbled by 21 per cent, steeper than expected, hurt by tax-driven price hikes that shrank the Russian beer market by 7 per cent and more costly barley imports enforced by last year’s poor harvest there.