SABMiller Up Globally – MC Down in US

Blue Moon continues growth but MC is down 2% for the year

SABMiller reported a 2 percent rise in fourth-quarter worldwide underlying beer volumes on Tuesday as emerging markets like Latin America and Africa started to recover.

Overall beer volumes for the 12 months to end-March were flat on an underlying basis after stripping out the effect of acquisitions.

In the United States, where it formed the MillerCoors joint venture in July 2008, sales to retailers fell 2.3 percent with a 4 percent fall in the fourth quarter. Domestic sales to retailers were down -2.3% for the year with a -4% decline in the quarter to March. The “strong performance” of the fauz craft brand Blue Moon helped the “craft” and import portfolio grow “mid-single digits.”

The brewer which earns over 85 percent of its profits from emerging markets like South Africa, Colombia, Poland and China said its financial performance for the year to end-March was in line with its expectations helped by the strength of many of its operating currencies around the world against the dollar.

SABMiller’s beer volumes have been hit by the global downturn while its move to raise prices to cover commodity cost hikes further dampened growth, but falling barley costs and a slow recovery should help the group in the second half of 2010.