Carlsberg lowers profit outlook on fall in Russian sales

AFP
Carlsberg is cutting brewing capacity in Russia by 15%, affecring 500 to 600 jobs
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Carlsberg is cutting brewing capacity in Russia by 15%, affecring 500 to 600 jobs (AFP Photo/Claus Fisker)

Copenhagen (AFP) - Danish brewer Carlsberg cut its annual profit guidance on Wednesday and said economic uncertainty in Russia, its biggest market, could prompt it to close some breweries.

Clouds over the outlook in some parts of eastern Europe had cut consumption of beer, the company said.

"Due to the recent macro events the consumer sentiment and the outlook for some of the economies in eastern Europe are becoming increasingly challenging and uncertain," the company said in its quarterly earnings statement.

"Consequently, we believe that the beer category will deteriorate further in the second half of the year," it added.

As a result, the company said it believed reported adjusted net profit would decline by "mid to high" single digit percentages, rather than an earlier forecast of low single digit growth.

The estimate was based on a high single digit sales fall in Russia, while prospects for the beer market in western Europe looked flat or slightly lower this year. The outlook for consumption in Asia was growing "in line with 2013".

The company said: "In order to mitigate the risks as much as possible, several changes have been and will be made in our eastern European business, including structural changes."

"These include considerations related to brewery closures," Carlsberg added.

Second-quarter profit rose to 2.21 billion kroner (296 million euros, $394 million) from 2.07 billion kroner, which was above a Dow Jones Newswires analyst consensus of 2.08 billion kroner.

A turnaround in the Russian market could take at least a year to materialise and was unlikely to affect next year's results, Sydbank analyst Morten Imsgard told Danish news agency Ritzau

"We might as well view 2015 as a year in which Carlsberg will struggle to achieve any growth in eastern Europe," he said.

Shares in Carlsberg were down by 4.4 percent in mid-morning trading on the Copenhagen stock market, where the main index was 0.35 percent higher.

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