SABMiller trading update for the 11 months to February 2004
23 March 2003
London and Johannesburg. SABMiller plc today issued the following update on trading for the 11 months to February 2004, as the group's financial year nears completion.
Organic lager volume growth continues, increasing by just over 3% for the 11 months to February 2004, and the group's operating performance remains strong.
Miller sales to retailers ("STRs") for the 11 months are down 2.7% on a pro forma basis. This contrasts with the 9 month decline to December 2003, when STRs were down 3.4%. The slowing of the volume decline trend can be attributed to continued growth in Miller Lite brand sales offset by some weaker performances elsewhere in the brand portfolio. There has been no material change in the level of distributor inventories in the current year, following the reduction in the prior year. Miller financial performance is ahead of our expectations reflecting better Miller Lite volumes, efficiencies and improved effectiveness in marketing spend, and benefits from restructuring. Overall, the execution of the Miller turnaround strategy remains on schedule.
In Central America, beer volumes have grown by some 4%, whilst sales of carbonated soft drinks are down 4.5% reflecting a slowing of the negative trend. Our initiatives in improving the brand portfolios and stimulating growth in beer consumption, together with benefits from lower costs following a wide-ranging restructuring programme, have enhanced financial performance.
Volumes in our Europe business remain strong, with year to date organic lager volumes some 8% above the prior year, leading to financial performance being in line with our expectations. The integration projects within Peroni remain on plan although its profitability for the period is impacted by integration costs and significant investment behind our brands, particularly in support of the launch of Miller Genuine Draft.
The Africa and Asia business has delivered an increase of some 3% in organic lager volume over the prior year. The division is producing a strong operating performance from its portfolio of businesses, and this has been enhanced by favourable currency movements.
Beer South Africa has grown volumes by nearly 3% on a comparable basis, and ABI has achieved carbonated soft drink volume growth of over 7%. Earnings in both units reflect good underlying operating performances.
Our business has continued the momentum of organic growth achieved in the first half of our financial year, with Miller and Central America delivering financial performance above our expectations in the second half of the financial year to date.
Notes to editors:
SABMiller plc is one of the world's largest brewers, with 2002/03 lager volumes in excess of 115 million hectolitres. It has a brewing presence in over 40 countries across four continents and a portfolio of strong brands and leading market shares in many of the countries in which it has brewing operations. Outside the USA, SABMiller plc is one of the largest bottlers of Coca-Cola products in the world.
In the year ended 31 March 2003, the group generated US$770 million pre-tax profit from a turnover of US$9,112 million. SABMiller plc is listed on the London and Johannesburg stock exchanges.
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