UK: SABMiller has issued update on trading for the 12 months to 31 March 2006
SABMiller issued on April 12 the following update on trading for the 12 months to 31 March 2006. The group recorded good organic growth of 5% in lager volumes for the 12 months to 31 March 2006, and group financial performance was in line with management's expectations. The calculation of organic growth rates excludes volumes for our new South America business, which became part of the group in October 2005.
Miller's domestic sales to retailers ("STR"s) were 1.0% below prior year, in a relatively weak industry trading and pricing environment over the 12 months. Our flagship brand Miller Lite continued to grow, despite cycling higher year-on-year comparables and aggressive pricing by the main competitor brand. South America lager volumes for the six months to 31 March were 7% above the prior year, on a pro forma basis, in line with our expectations at the time of the transaction. This reflects continued good growth in Colombia, and a particularly strong volume performance in Peru in competitive market conditions. In Central America, carbonated soft drink volumes have grown by 6%, but beer volumes were down by 5%, as a result of the ongoing impact of the discriminatory increase in excise on beer in El Salvador during 2005. In Europe, lager volumes grew by 5% on an organic basis, with strong performances from Poland, Russia and Romania throughout the year.
The Africa and Asia business has recorded further good growth, with robust growth in China driving an increase in organic lager volume, on a comparable basis, of 14% for the year. Volumes in South Africa were impacted by both the absence of an Easter trading period in the financial year and challenging prior year comparables. The summer weather was poorer than in recent years, and this particularly affected soft drink volumes. Beer volumes grew by 1% (after adjusting for the transfer of Angola sales volumes to Africa and Asia), and within this the premium sector of the market continued to perform strongly. Soft drink volumes grew by some 4%.
SABMiller is one of the world's largest brewers with brewing interests or distribution agreements in over 60 countries across five continents. The group's brands include premium international beers such as Miller Genuine Draft, Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Pilsner Urquell, as well as an exceptional range of market leading local brands. Outside the USA, SABMiller plc is also one of the largest bottlers of Coca-Cola products in the world. In the year ended 31 March 2005, the group reported US$2,194 million pre-tax profit and a turnover of US$14,543 million on a UK GAAP basis. SABMiller plc is listed on the London and Johannesburg stock exchanges
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