Heineken first half profits beat expectations

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Dutch brewing giant Heineken reported on Wednesday profits that beat analysts expectations for the first half of the year as strong volumes in Africa and Asia helped offset weakness in developed markets.

"Trading conditions remained challenging in Europe and the USA, but we realised strong group beer volume growth in Africa and Asia," Heineken chief executive Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said in a statement.

The company said it had booked net profits of 621 million euros (789 million dollars) for the first half of 2010, up 29 percent from the 483 million euros reported for the same period of 2009.

The result beat analysts' expectations on average for a net profit of 584 million euros, as polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

In addition to the positive boost from Africa and Asia, the company's bottom-line benefitted from cost-cutting measures which saved the group 104 million euros.

Looking ahead, Boxmeer said: "We are well placed for the future. Our expanded footprint in Latin America complements our strong positions in Africa and Asia where we continue to see excellent opportunities for future volume growth."

Heineken said first-half revenues rose 5.2 percent to 7.52 billion euros, boosted by the inclusion of Mexican drinks group Fomento Economico Mexicano SA (FEMSA), which the company bought in January for 5.3 billion euros.

"Femsa's results were only taken into account for May and June in Heineken's results, but we saw that it already had a positive impact on the revenue of the semester," spokesman John Clarke said.

In addition to its namesake Heineken brand, the group sells more than 200 beer and cider labels including Amstel, Cruzcampo, Birra Moretti, Foster's, Strongbow and Tiger.

It employed 55,000 people around the world last year, and operated 125 breweries in more than 70 countries, selling 159 million hectolitres of beer.

Shares in Heineken gained 1.94 percent in mid morning trading in Amsterdam to 35.435 euros in a broadly higher market.

© 2010 AFP

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