SABMiller Lager, Soft Drink Sales Rise in First Half

SABMiller, the world's largest brewer, said Monday that sales improved in the first half of its financial year thanks largely to strong gains in developing countries.


In a trading update for the six months ending Sept.30, the company said lager volume rose 1 percent and soft drink volume gained 2 percent.

Double-digit gains in lager volumes in Asia and Africa offset declines in Europe and the Americas in the six months ending Sept.30.

SABMiller did not report earnings figures, but said they had improved because of the strength of key currencies against the U.S. dollar.

The company resumed reporting results from its 36 percent stake in Delta Corp, the biggest brewer and soft drinks bottler in Zimbabwe, reflecting a more stable economic situation the country.

SABMiller had stopped including Zimbabwe results in 2006 because of the country's deteriorating economy.

It has resumed reporting due to "the effective 'dollarization' of the economy in 2009, the end of hyperinflation and the stabilization of the Zimbabwean economy."

"All credit goes to the Delta management team, whose efforts in keeping the business running in the last few years have been little short of heroic," said Mark Bowman, managing director of SABMiller Africa.

SABMiller said lager volume rose 11 percent in Africa and 10 percent in Asia during the first half.

Lager volume in Europe was down 5 percent, volume from the MillerCoors joint venture in North American dropped 3.2 percent — including a 4 percent dip in the second quarter — and volumes in Latin America were down marginally, the company said.

The company's financial performance was in line with expectations, it said.

"Results benefited from this volume growth, prior year net price increases and some raw material cost reductions, while we continued to invest in marketing," SABMiller said.

"The strengthening of key operating currencies against the U.S. dollar also assisted results for the half year."