* Q1 revenues beat forecast, maintains 2017 outlook
* Volume decline offset by strong price-mix
* Sees Russian market volumes continuing to decline
* Shares up 1.9 percent following sales report
(Adds analyst, CEO comment)
By Stine Jacobsen and Nikolaj Skydsgaard
COPENHAGEN, May 4 Carlsberg stuck to
its 2017 profit forecast on Thursday as the Danish brewer
reported a 5 percent rise in first quarter sales, with lower
overall volumes offset by an improved price mix as drinkers
opted for pricier beers.
First-quarter sales came in at 13.70 billion Danish crowns
($2.01 billion), Carlsberg said, above the 13.48 billion
forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.
"Both Eastern Europe and Asia delivered surprisingly strong
price-mix-effects in the first quarter, which is a very positive
signal to investors. They are already reaping the benefits of
their strategy," said Sydbank analyst Morten Imsgard.
A higher price mix means the company sold more of its more
expensive beers, helping its profit margins.
Imsgard said that while Carlsberg might have challenges
selling more beer, it was a positive sign that it was "able to
guide their customers towards more profitable beer brands".
Carlsberg launched a seven-year plan in 2015 to deliver
organic sales growth and margin improvements by striking a
balance between volume growth and more profitable products.
But despite this, Carlsberg saw market volumes in Russia
continuing to decline throughout the year.
"The 4 percent (Russian market volume) decline in Q1 is
largely in line with expectations ... We feel that around 4-5
percent the market could continue to decline mainly as an impact
of the PET," chief executive Cees’t Hart said.
Russian initiatives to discourage drinking have included
banning the sale of beer in so-called PET bottles, popular
plastic bottles larger than 1.5 litres, which has further hurt
sales in Carlsberg's biggest market.
Eastern European volumes fell by 2 percent, while overall
volumes were down by 1 percent in the quarter. However,
Carlsberg's price-mix effect grew 4 percent.
Carlsberg, which did not disclose earnings figures, said it
still expected mid-single-digit organic growth in operating
profit this year. It also expects a positive impact from
currency exchange of 300 million crowns versus a previously
forecast 350 million crowns.
Meanwhile, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's
largest brewer, reported results on Thursday, posting a lower
than expected increase in profit in the first quarter as
earnings slipped in the United States and fell sharply in
Brazil, its two largest markets.
Shares in Carlsberg were up 1.9 percent at 0820 GMT.
($1 = 6.8247 Danish crowns)
(Editing by Alexander Smith)