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Carlsberg CEO warns profit growth could slow following 2018's long, hot summer

Key Points
  • Danish brewer Carlsberg posted fourth-quarter sales above expectations on Wednesday.
  • Sales stood at 13.95 billion Danish crowns ($2.13 billion) in the fourth quarter.
  • The world's third-largest brewer told CNBC that profit growth would likely have to slow in 2019.
The sun is one of our best salesmen, Carlsberg CEO says

Danish brewer Carlsberg has warned that 2018's stellar profit growth may not be matched this year, unless the weather shines again.

The company expects 2019 organic operating profit to grow in the mid-single digits, below last year's 11 percent level.

Speaking to CNBC on Wednesday, the Carlsberg CEO, Cees 't Hart, said 2018's hot summer as well as soccer's World Cup in Russia had helped the firm increase its margin.

"The sun is always one of our best salesmen," he said before adding that the blowout profit growth last year may provide a tough benchmark to match or exceed.

"In 2018 we increased our (profit) guidance twice but we started off with middle single-digit guidance which is what we are again doing for 2019," he added.

The Copenhagen firm also reported better-than-expected fourth quarter sales fueled by strong growth in China.

Carlsberg expects to have a presence in 30-40 Chinese cities by the end of this year, compared to 20 cities at the end of 2018.

Cees 't Hart said Russia was no longer the firm's clear largest market following strong growth in both India and China.

Wednesday's release of 2018 full year earnings revealed a year-on-year sales increase of 3 percent.

Following the data, the brewer's stock price rose almost 3 percent.