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Carlsberg shares tank 7%, hit in key Russia market

Shares in Carlsberg plunged more than 7 percent at the market open after the Danish brewer reported second-quarter operating profit below expectations that were hit by cold weather in Northern Europe and a "deteriorating macroeconomic climate" in Russia and Ukraine.

Operating profit before special items fell 18.9 percent to 2.92 billion Danish crowns ($432 million) in April to June, below a forecast of 3.24 billion crowns in a Reuters poll.

The company did not achieve the full range of anticipated savings, and a process of revising its strategy to re-establish and further strengthen financial stability has been initiated, said Cees 't Hart, who took over as chief executive on June 15.

"For the full year, we therefore do not expect that the strong Asian performance will be enough to offset the weaker-than-expected results in Western Europe and the challenging market conditions in Eastern Europe," Hart said in a statement on Wednesday.

Carlsberg lowered its full-year financial guidance and now expects organic operating profit to decline slightly. Earlier it expected mid- to high-single digit organic growth percentages.

A Carlsberg advertisement
Cancan Chu | Getty Images
A Carlsberg advertisement

The brewer's struggles in Eastern Europe continued. Operating profit in the region slumped by 45 percent to 830 million Danish crowns ($123 million) in the first half of 2015 compared with the same period a year before.

"The Russian market has in recent years undergone significant changes and been very challenging," the company said in its earnings report on Wednesday.

Carlsberg added that the Ukrainian market "worsened even further," with volumes shrinking by around 17 percent. The company attributed this to the "deteriorating macroeconomic climate as well as significant price increases to cover inflation."

Can cost-cutting really help?

Carlsberg, under pressure from poor performance in its key market Russia, cut jobs at its headquarters and regional offices by 20 percent from around 900 employees in May.

This came after it closed two Russian breweries in January, corresponding to 15 percent of its capacity in the country.

"We don't expect the cost-cutting program being able to compensate for very uncertain market conditions," analyst Michael Friis Jorgensen from Alm. Brand Markets wrote in a note to clients.

The results of the company's revising strategy will be announced in the first half of 2016.