Danish brewer Carlsberg’s first-quarter operating profit and revenue beat forecasts on Tuesday, as strong beer sales in Asia cushioned sluggish mature European markets and a decline in its former growth driver Russia.
Beer sales in Asia accounted for nearly 20 percent of group revenue in the first quarter, approaching Eastern Europe sales which accounted for 22 percent.
The two-digit percentage rise in Asia revenue was helped by strong beer sales in countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia and India, as well as Carlsberg increase in ownership at the Chongqing Jianiang Brewery joint venture.
“Asia is the new growth driver,” said Nykredit analyst Ricky Rasmussen.
“The company exceeds expectations in all three regions, and they are gaining market share,” Rasmussen said.
Asia has become a battleground for the world’s biggest brewer’s like Carlsberg, the world’s fourth biggest.
The Danish brewer recently launched a partial takeover bid to raise its stake in Chongqing Brewery Company, and announced its return to Myanmar after the easing of international sanctions.
Last month, Carlsberg’s chief executive Jorgen Buhl Rasmussen pledged he would ensure the strategy and acquisition plans continue unchanged in Asia, after the head of the region resigned.
“This is a very good start to the year for Carlsberg,” said Sydbank analyst Morten Imsgard.
“Asia lights up the result and both the Tuborg and Carlsberg brands are doing well in the region,” Imsgard said.
Carlsberg is consistently working to increase earnings in Asia through premium brands such as its Carlsberg, Tuborg and Baltika beers, which are more expensive than the local brands within its portfolio.