AB InBev earnings top forecasts as core profit rises 13%

Anheuser-Busch InBev's (BUD) Q4 like-for-like EBITDA climbed 13% to $5.2B and topped estimates of $4.94B, although the figure included a $143M one-off gain.

Net profit jumped 47% to $2.52B, while revenue increased to $11. 71B from $10.29B and exceeded forecasts of $11.7B.

Normalized EPS +32.7% to $1.46; consensus is for $1.31.

AB InBev's profitability benefited from price hikes and a shift to premium lagers, as well as from a strong performance in Brazil and cost cutting in Mexico.

However, total beverage volumes fell 2%, with sales slipping in Brazil and Mexico, although they rose in Asia.

Mexico EBITDA climbed 44% to $575M, helped by savings following AB InBev's acquisition of Grupo Modelo.

Net debt as of 31 December rose to $38.8B from $8.7B a year earlier, mainly due to the Modelo deal.

AB InBev expects the soccer World Cup in Brazil in the summer to boost sales in the country.

AB InBev proposed a final dividend of €1.45 a share, bringing the total dividend for 2013 to €2.05. The shares will trade ex-coupon as of 5 May and dividends will be payable on May 8. The record date will be May 7. (PR)

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