March 21, 2018 / 4:43 AM / in 8 months

China Resources Beer says 2017 pre-tax profit up 4.4 pct, lags forecast

HONG KONG, March 21 (Reuters) - China Resources Beer (Holdings) Co Ltd posted a 4.4 percent rise in annual pre-tax profit on Wednesday, benefiting from an increase in beer sales volume and average selling price, and as it focuses on higher margin premium beers.

The owner of the Snow beer brand said pre-tax profit came in at 1.816 billion yuan ($286.84 million) for 2017, below an average estimate of 1.94 billion yuan from 19 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. It posted a pre-tax profit of 1.739 billion yuan in 2016.

China Resources Beer is in talks to acquire Heineken NV’s China business in a deal that could be worth more than $1 billion, as it seeks new growth from premium brands, people close to the discussions have said.

Net profit jumped 86.6 percent to 1.18 billion yuan as it accounted for new income gained from China Resources Snow Breweries which became a wholly owned unit in late 2016.

Shares of China Resources Beer rose 2.2 percent prior to the results statement, outpacing 1.2 percent gain in the benchmark index.

$1 = 6.3311 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Shri Navaratnam

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