China's Tsingtao 2012 net profit up 1.2 pct, lags estimates

HONG KONG, March 27 Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:48am EDT

HONG KONG, March 27 (Reuters) - Tsingtao Brewery Co Ltd , China's second-biggest brewer by volume, on Wednesday said its 2012 net profit rose 1.2 percent in its slowest growth since 1999, as higher production costs offset a rise in beer sales.

Tsingtao, in which Japan's Asahi Breweries Ltd holds a stake of about 19 percent, said net profit rose to a record 1.76 billion yuan in the year ended December, up from 1.74 billion yuan profit in 2011.

The result lagged an estimate of 1.8 billion yuan, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenues increased 11.3 percent to 25.78 billion yuan from 23.16 billion yuan in 2011.

A slowdown in China's economy and cold and wet weather had hit the beer industry production, while rising raw material and labour costs further squeezed margins, analysts said.

The Chinese brewer posted fourth-quarter profit of 80 million yuan in the three months ended December, compared with 73.8 million yuan profit in the year earlier period, Tsingtao said. That lags a forecast of 120 million yuan.

Sales growth was hampered by rising costs of labour, packaging and raw materials including barley, analysts said.

Tsingtao's Hong Kong-listed shares have risen 5 percent so far this year, outpacing a 0.8 percent fall in the benchmark Hang Seng Index. (Reporting by Donny Kwok and Raymond Leung; editing by James Jukwey)