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Heineken hikes beer sales but sees bigger currency hit

Heineken, now the world's second-largest beer maker, sold more beer than expected in the third quarter and retained its full-year profit margin forecast, although said the impact of currencies would be worse than previously thought.

The maker of Europe's top-selling lager Heineken, Tiger and Sol said it sold 2 percent more beer on a consolidated basis than a year earlier, with strong growth in Mexico and Asia, notably Vietnam, but lower volumes in Russia, Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Heineken also fared well in most European markets, due to favorably beer-drinking weather.

Heineken has now become the world's number two brewer, although the gap between it global leader AB InBev <ABI.BR> has widened after the latter's takeover of SABMiller earlier this month.

"Performance in the third quarter was robust despite strong comparatives in Americas and Europe, and a tough environment in Africa Middle East & Eastern Europe," Chief Executive Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said in a statement.

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Overall beer volumes were 54 million hectolitres, higher than the average expectation in a Reuters poll of 53.1 million.

The company said it still expected its operating margin would expand by about 40 basis points over the year, slowing down following a 124 point expansion in the first half.

It did not give its margin for the third quarter.

However, it forecast an even heavier currency translation impact, now at 215 million euros at operating profit and 115 million euros at net profit level, from 200 million and 110 million euros seen before.

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