Heineken issues profit warning on emerging markets

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Dutch brewer Heineken NV issued a profit warning Wednesday, saying business was worse than expected in developing markets and the economic recovery in industrial nations was weak.

The world's third-largest brewer now expects full year "underlying earnings," which strip out the effects of acquisitions, to be lower than they were in 2012, whereas it had previous said they would be "broadly in line."

The company also reported a 15 percent fall in actual earnings for the third quarter, with net profit dropping to 483 million euros ($665 million) from 568 million in the same period a year ago, in part because of the stronger euro.

Heineken's share price fell by 5.5 percent to 49.93 euros in Amsterdam. CEO Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said the company will respond by expanding its cost-cutting programs. "We didn't expect such negative development in central and eastern Europe," he said on a conference call with analysts, noting that the Russian market may shrink by as much as 10 percent.

"Secondly, we were expecting better in key developing markets like Mexico and Nigeria," Van Boxmeer said. He also put Brazil in that category, saying Heineken had expected beer markets to reflect economic growth that has so far failed to materialize.

The company's third quarter trading update also showed revenues, including acquisitions, rose 4 percent to 5.18 billion euros during the period. However, they grew just 0.2 percent without the impact of acquisitions, as price hikes of 3.4 percent outweighed a 3.2 percent fall in volumes across the company.

"Volumes and sales in the third quarter were lower than expected as Heineken continues to face challenging market conditions in emerging markets," said SNS Securities analyst Richard Withagen in a note.

Withagen repeated a "Reduce" rating on the shares.

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