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Carlsberg Shares Jump on Higher Profit

Danish brewer Carlsberg posted higher-than-expected operating profit on Wednesday, boosted by growth in Eastern Europe and raised its outlook for the year, sending its shares up almost 5%.

The world's fifth-biggest brewer reported first-half earnings before interest and taxes of 2.26 billion Danish crowns ($418.9 million), up 31% from last year and above the average of 2.23 billion crowns in a Reuters poll of 11 analysts.

Sales rose 12% to 21.5 billion crowns, topping the poll average of 21.18 billion, lifted by strong sales in Baltic Beverages Holding, Carlsberg's Eastern European joint venture with Britain's Scottish & Newcastle.

Carlsberg raised its expectations for the year, forecasting sales growth of at least 10% from the previous 7% and operating profit of 5 billion crowns from the previous outlook of 4.7 billion crowns.

"It's a very nice report," said Bjorn Schwarz, an analyst at Sydbank. "It shows that Carlsberg is strong in many areas and it seems like there's more to come earnings-wise."

Carlsberg shares were up 2.2%, on the Copenhagen exchange, outperforming the bourse's top-20 index, which was up 1%.

Total beer sales rose 17% to 39.8 million hectoliters for the first half of the year, Carlsberg said.

The company's Carlsberg and Tuborg beer brands posted volume increases of 6% and 24%, respectively, the latter mainly as a result of rising sales in Russia and Ukraine.

Higher sales in Russia and other BBH countries were fuelled by warm weather and a change in consumption patterns away from wine and spirits, Carlsberg said.

The brewer said it also gained market share in several key markets in Western Europe, including Britain and the Nordic countries.

In Asia, beer sales rose 29% by volume, with China and Vietnam leading the way.