Heineken 2010 Sales of Beer By Volume Fall More Than Analysts Estimated

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Heineken NV, the world’s third- largest brewer, said 2010 beer sales fell more than analysts had anticipated as developed markets lagged behind growth elsewhere.
Organic sales volume fell 3.1 percent, the Amsterdam-based company said in a statement today. That was more than the 2.8 percent forecast by analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Full-year earnings before interest and taxes, excluding one-time items, rose to 2.61 billion euros ($3.5 billion). That beat a 2.52 billion-euro median estimate. Profitability was helped by 280 million euros in pretax savings from a cost-cutting program.
Heineken said today that it will focus on investing in and selling more profitable beer in Europe and the U.S. to deliver “value growth.” The shift will affect the company’s earnings development in the near future, it said, without being more specific. The company expects ongoing cautious consumer behavior in the U.S. and Europe.
Brewers including Heineken are cutting costs in developed markets and looking to developing countries to improve profitability and increase sales. Growth in traditional markets including the U.S. and Europe has been stinted by competition and government cost-cutting measures, which are holding back consumer spending. Heineken, the maker of Amstel and Newcastle Brown Ale, reported a 2.2 percent decline in organic revenue, which excludes acquisitions.