Heineken cuts profit growth forecast as higher prices put off consumers

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Heineken reduce its outlook for revenue development this yr following a pointy slowdown in Asia and as US and European shoppers balk at paying extra for his or her beer.

The world’s second-largest brewer reported a 22 per cent decline in working earnings within the first half of the yr, with its total volumes dropping 5.6 per cent, a steeper fall than the three.4 per cent analysts had forecast.

The Dutch firm blamed the “cumulative impact” of worth rises and a “difficult financial backdrop” for the subdued first-half efficiency that was marked by a very weak displaying in Vietnam, the place Heineken is the most important brewer.

With opponents AB InBev and Diageo additionally reporting half-year earnings this week, analysts are taking part in shut consideration to volumes for indicators of shopper pushback in opposition to worth rises as drink makers deal with excessive enter prices.

Like its rivals, Heineken has steadily lifted costs in an effort to offset its personal rising prices. Nevertheless, chief government Dolf van den Brink mentioned he anticipated worth will increase to ease within the second half of the yr.

The Heineken chief mentioned demand in Asia-Pacific, the corporate’s most worthwhile area, was “significantly softer than foreseen resulting from an financial slowdown and our personal underperformance in Vietnam”.

Bernstein analyst Trevor Stirling mentioned the brewer’s poor efficiency was largely pushed by occasions past its management however added that the corporate might have responded extra shortly to warning indicators in Vietnam. The nation’s export-driven financial system has been hit by a stoop in demand following the worldwide financial slowdown, which has in flip affected shopper sentiment.

“As a result of Vietnam has been such an ideal marketplace for so lengthy, it’s taken them unexpectedly,” mentioned Stirling.

Following the weak first half, Heineken mentioned working revenue development for the complete yr can be steady in mid-single digits, down from a earlier prediction of mid- to high-single digits.

James Edwardes Jones, analyst at RBC Capital Markets, expressed doubts concerning the new steering and mentioned he was “bemused by Heineken’s unapologetic dedication to push up costs right into a worsening shopper atmosphere”.

“This looks as if a large take a look at of the pricing energy of Heineken’s manufacturers — a take a look at that has been lower than wholly profitable if 1H’s quantity decline of 5.4 per cent is something to go by,” he mentioned.

Shares in Heineken fell 5 per cent on Monday, erasing a few of their advance this yr.

Van den Brink instructed the Monetary Instances that the corporate had written down its Russia property to zero, saying: “We simply need to be out.” 

The Dutch group, which additionally makes Tiger, Amstel and Birra Moretti, mentioned it had taken an impairment lack of €201mn so removed from its partial exit from Russia.

In April, Heineken introduced it had recognized a purchaser and submitted an utility for approval to the Russian authorities. Nevertheless the corporate’s standing within the nation has been difficult by the information earlier this month that its competitor Carlsberg, in addition to French shopper items group Danone, have had their Russian subsidiaries seized by the Kremlin.

Van den Brink added that pending a transaction the corporate couldn’t make additional remark in case it impacted their probabilities of approval.

“On no account can we intend to withdraw our transaction. We nonetheless intend to exit the nation,” he mentioned.

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