COPENHAGEN, April 28 (Reuters) - A rebound in Chinese beer
sales in the first quarter helped Carlsberg to beat
analyst expectations, even as lockdowns depressed markets in
Western Europe, the Danish brewer said on Wednesday.
The world's third-biggest brewer, after Heineken
and Anheuser Busch Inbev, said volumes sold in China
increased by more than 50% compared with the first three months
of last year and by 20% from the same period in 2019.
"This is more than just an easy comparison to last year,"
Chief Executive Cees 't Hart said at a conference call referring
to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus that locked down China
early last year.
"It shows that we are more than back on track in China and
that we have regained our momentum," he said.
Volumes declined by 6% in the more profitable Western
European market, although the company had a "relatively good
start to April" and saw "good progress" in Britain, where pubs
reopened this month, Hart said.
Total sales between January and March stood at 13.0 billion
Danish crowns ($2.11 billion), compared with 12.8 billion
estimated by analysts in a poll gathered by the company.
The situation is similar to that of rival Heineken
, which last week beat expectations as beer sales in
Africa and Asia increased, but were offset by a sharp decline in
The positive start to the year led Carlsberg to increase
minimum expectations for profit growth for this year. It expects
operating profit to grow between 5% and 10%, compared with its
previous guidance of 3% to 10% growth.
The brewer has also launched a share buy-back programme,
aiming to purchase shares worth 1 billion crowns until August
Carlsberg's shares traded 0.5% higher at 0748 GMT, near an
all-time high reached last week, and are up 10% since the start
of the year.
($1 = 6.1596 Danish crowns)
(Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Andrew
Heavens, Keith Weir and Barbara Lewis)