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Heineken full-year profit soars on one-time gain

  • Article by: TOBY STERLING
  • Associated Press
  • February 13, 2013 - 4:18 AM

AMSTERDAM - Heineken NV said Wednesday its profit doubled in 2012 following a reappraisal of its Asian business.

However, the company's actual performance was mixed, with operating profit by one nonstandard measure "broadly in line" with last year. The Amsterdam-based brewer is family-controlled and reports earnings twice per year.

Despite weakness in Europe, it sold more beer at a higher price globally. But earnings were held back by higher investment and commodity costs, offset by lower tax and debt costs.

Reported net profit was (EURO)2.95 billion ($3.96 billion), up from (EURO)1.43 billion. Almost all the increase was due to a (EURO)1.5 billion gain from revaluing its Asian businesses, notably Asia Pacific Breweries, the owner of Tiger beer.

Reported revenue grew 7.6 percent to (EURO)18.4 billion but on a like-for-like basis they grew only 3.9 percent, with volumes up 1.5 percent and prices up 2.4 percent.

Heineken said its U.S. business is experiencing a "turnaround" in its Heineken brand and growth in Mexican brands it owns such as Sol, Tecate and Dos Equis.

Shares rose 3.3 percent to (EURO)53.67 in Amsterdam.

In 2013 "the higher growth regions of Africa, Latin America and Asia Pacific are expected to more than offset volume weakness in European markets affected by continued economic uncertainty and government-led austerity measures," said chief executive Jean-Francois van Boxmeer.

He said that the company expects only slightly higher commodity costs in 2013 and forecast an unspecified increase in "profitability."

"Heineken's 2012 earnings were slightly stronger than expected and (higher than) company guidance," said analyst Richard Withagen of SNS Securities in a note Wednesday. "Earnings growth is driven by emerging markets and...cost savings. We expect this to continue in 2013." He rates shares a Hold.

Heineken's net debt increased to (EURO)12.3 billion from (EURO)8.4 billion at the end of 2011 as a result of Heineken's acquisition of the 58 percent stake in Asia Pacific Breweries it didn't already own, at a total cost of around (EURO)4.8 billion.

After the acquisition, Heineken said nearly 60 percent of operating profits will come from developing markets.

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