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Mexico’s Modelo profit up 33 pct on weak peso

* Q3 profit 3.310 bln pesos vs 2.496 bln pesos last year
* Revenue up 1.4 percent to 23.551 bln pesos
* Costs seen rising in Q4

Oct 21 (Reuters) - Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo benefited from the weak peso in the third quarter, posting an almost 33 percent jump in profit even as revenue rose only slightly.

Modelo, which exports popular brands such as Corona, got a boost as the peso saw its steepest slump in September since the 2008 financial crisis. As the peso fell, the value of the company's sales in the United States, its biggest export market, rose.

The brewer reported on Friday that third-quarter profit climbed to 3.310 billion pesos ($238 million) from 2.496 billion pesos a year earlier.

Modelo -- half-owned by the world's biggest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev -- said revenue rose 1.4 percent to 23.551 billion pesos.

The brewer could take a hit in the fourth quarter from higher grain costs, Chief Financial Office Emilio Fullaondo warned analysts on a conference call.

A cold snap in September and heavy rains in Mexico's southwest damaged as much as 70 percent of the country's second barley crop of the year, and this mean Modelo will have to import barley at higher prices, Fullaondo said.

EXPORT DROP

Export sales dropped 4.1 percent in the third quarter, hurt by lower sales in the United States. Sales in Latin America and Europe increased.

Modelo is introducing new brands, such as Victoria and Pacifico, and expanding its draft offering in the United States.

"We are committed to developing the new brands that we're launching into the U.S., but that takes time," said Fullaondo. "It's still a very complicated environment in the U.S."

Exports accounted for 32.7 percent of total sales in the quarter, compared with 34.5 percent a year earlier, Modelo said.

Domestic sales were up 9.6 percent.

Modelo shares were up 2.2 percent at 80.64 pesos in local trading on Thursday.

21 Oct. 2011

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