Tags: EU | Netherlands | Earns | Heineken

Heineken 2009 Profit Surges on Lower Costs

Tuesday, 23 Feb 2010 09:57 AM

The Dutch brewer Heineken NV said Tuesday full year 2009 profit rose fivefold as it was able to cut costs and raise beer prices despite the global economic downturn. The company also took fewer one-time writeoffs.

Full year net profit at the world's third largest brewer was 1.02 billion euros ($1.39 billion), up sharply from 209 million euros in 2008, when it had to write 475 million euros off of the value of its operations in Russia and India.

Heineken also benefited from a one-time book gain of 215 million euros in 2009 as it bought back debt at a troubled subsidiary at below face value.

Sales rose 2.8 percent to 14.7 billion euros, boosted by Heineken's consolidation of Scottish & Newcastle, the British brewer it bought for 14.3 billion euros in May 2008.

Heineken hiked its prices in 2009, even as beer drinkers were cutting back consumption.

"Strong pricing delivered stable revenues that compensated for lower volumes," CEO Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said.

Volumes fell in most regions. Heineken noted that the U.S. suffered particularly during the downturn, with beer drinkers preferring cheaper brands and consumption of imported beers falling around 10 percent.

However, price increases and lower advertising costs helped preserve earnings. Companywide, earnings benefited from cost savings as Heineken was able to close some breweries while combining operations with Scottish & Newcastle.

Heineken does not publish quarterly figures.

Van Boxmeer said that "organic growth" in net profit was 18 percent, while "organic" sales growth was flat. These are nonstandard measures that strip out the effects of acquisitions and writedowns.

"Heineken's earnings came in slightly below our estimates, but in line with consensus," said analyst Richard Withagen of SNS Securities in a note on the earnings. He added that earnings appeared "driven by cost savings" and repeated a "Hold" rating on shares.

Van Boxmeer said Heineken expected beer drinkers to show a preference for cheaper brands in 2010, and Heineken planned more advertising to compensate.

The company said it expects its latest purchase, the $7.6 billion acquisition of Dos Equis brewer Femsa, to close in the second quarter.

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The Dutch brewer Heineken NV said Tuesday full year 2009 profit rose fivefold as it was able to cut costs and raise beer prices despite the global economic downturn. The company also took fewer one-time writeoffs.Full year net profit at the world's third largest brewer was...
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