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SABMiller raises a glass to 7% profit rise

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Beer brewing giant SABMiller (LON:SAB) toasted a 7% rise in first-half pre-tax profits, thanks to strong sales of its lager in emerging markets.

The world’s second biggest brewer said pre-tax profits in the six months to September 30 were up to US$2.43bn from US$2.26bn, including exceptional charges of US$52mln.

Latin America, where the group sells the most beer, saw revenues rise 5% to US$2.75bn, while Africa saw the biggest growth of 11%, generating revenues of US$1.66bn.

Strong sales in both emerging regions helped offset a fall in sales in Europe and North America, SABMiller’s second and third largest markets, respectively.

Group net producer revenue in Europe fell 1% to US$2.68bn, while North American revenues dipped a touch to US$2.51bn.

The strong performance in Africa and Latin America came despite a slowdown in growth in emerging markets, which hit currency movements against the US dollar.

Chief executive Alan Clark said: “We have continued to deliver on the potential of our businesses in both developed and developing markets, with revenue and margin improvements amid mixed trading conditions.

“We have improved the reach of our mainstream brands across most regions, and through initiatives such as the launch of Redd's Apple Ale in the USA, the momentum behind Castle Lite across Africa, and the increasing appeal of Peroni Nastro Azzurro from Europe to Australia, we are strengthening our premium propositions across the group and evolving our high-end brand portfolios to appeal to an ever wider range of consumers and drinking occasions."

The company also said its UK beer business outperformed the market by pints pulled this summer, helped by demand for premium lagers Pilsner Urquell and Peroni.

It also said it would be launching its Pilsner Urquell tank beer concept at more pubs in Britain following a successful trial at the White Horse in Parson’s Green, London.

The increasing popularity of craft beer in the UK, a concept which has flourished in the US, has boosted the appeal of on-site breweries and tanks.

The shares picked up 0.5% to £32.50.

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