SABMiller boosted by Latin America growth

LONDON Thu Nov 22, 2012 2:54am EST

LONDON (Reuters) - SABMiller (SAB.L), the world's second-biggest brewer, posted a 12 percent rise in first half profit, boosted by its acquisition of Australian brewer Foster's and strong growth in Latin America.

The maker of Miller Lite, Grolsch and Peroni on Thursday posted an adjusted pretax profit of $2.76 billion in the six months to the end of September on sales 11 percent higher at $17.47 billion.

The London-based brewer, which has expanded rapidly over the past two decades from its South African roots, said robust growth in Latin America and Asia Pacific helped make up for a 10 percent fall in European earnings.

SABMiller, which spent $11.8 billion late last year on Foster's, said the Australian company "contributed significantly" to first half growth.

The company, which raised its interim dividend by 12 percent to 24 cents, said it was cautious on its prospects for the second half, in part, due to tough economic conditions in some of its markets.

"We grew volumes and revenues across most regions despite a moderation of growth in some emerging markets," the company said in a statement.

"We have recently seen moderation of economic growth in some countries, but the potential of the principal emerging markets in which we operate remains strong."

The brewer, which also makes Castle, Snow, Pilsner Urquell and Aguila beers, also said the positive impact from acquisitions and business combinations seen in the first half would reduce in the latter part of the year.

Shares in SABMiller, which have fallen 6.4 percent in the last three months, closed at 2,633 pence on Wednesday, valuing the group at around 42 billion pounds ($66.92 billion).

($1 = 0.6276 British pounds)

(Reporting by Rhys Jones; editing by James Davey)