SABMiller Profit Down 32 Percent

World's second-largest brewer said net profit was down 32 percent to $973 million due to unfavorable currency moves and a decline in lager volumes.

LONDON (AP) -- SABMiller PLC, the world's second-largest brewer, on Thursday reported a 32 percent drop in net profit as revenues were hit hard by unfavorable currency movements and lager volumes declined.

For the six months ending Sept. 30, the brewer of Grolsch, Pilsner Urquell and Peroni Nastro Azzurro lagers said net profit was $973 million, compared with $1.42 billion a year earlier.

Comparisons were skewed by exceptional gains of $404 million last year as the company booked a profit from its role in establishing joint venture MillerCoors, while in the current period the company reported exceptional charges of $211 million.

Operating profit before exceptional items was down 19 percent to $1.43 billion.

Revenue fell 21 percent to $8.85 billion, with lager volume down 1 percent on a comparable basis.

Factoring out currency movements, acquisitions and disposals, the company said revenue was up 3 percent while earnings before interest, taxes and amoritzation, also called operating profit, were up 11 percent.

"The weakness of our major operating currencies against the U.S. dollar has affected reported results, but we have continued to generate a strong underlying performance," said Chief Executive Graham Mackay.

SABMiller shares were up 1.3 percent at 1,679 pence on the London Stock Exchange.

Lager volume in North America was down 5 percent, and MillerCoors sales to retailers were down 1 percent as trade in premium brands was weak, the company said. Earnings before interest, taxes and amortization, a form of operating profit, were up 7 percent.

Lager volumes in Europe declined 4 percent on a reported basis, which the company attributed partly to depressed consumer spending. Operating profit fell 19 percent on a reported basis but up 5 percent when adjusting for acquisitions, divestments and currency shifts. SABMiller said it gained market share in Poland, Romania and the U.K., while volume in Russia fell.

In Latin America, lager volume fell 1 percent but operating profit was up 33 percent on a constant currency basis. Volume in Africa rose 8 percent helped by acquisitions in Ghana, Nigeria and Ethiopia, or 3 percent on a comparable basis.

Asia volume rose 9 percent on a comparable basis. The company's CR Snow brand posted a 15 percent volume gain in China.

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