* Heineken downbeat on full-year prospects
* Sees little Europe, U.S. pick-up
* Carlsberg cuts Russia market outlook
* Heineken shares down almost 4 pct, among weakest in Europe
By Philip Blenkinsop and Teis Jensen
BRUSSELS/COPENHAGEN, Aug 21 Growth in emerging
markets could not rescue Dutch brewer Heineken and
rival Carlsberg on Wednesday from poor spring weather
and grinding economic recession in much of Europe.
But both forecast strong demand in Asia would ensure
full-year earnings match or go beyond last year's levels and
Heineken said it would push new products such as Radler, a mix
of lager and lemon juice, to draw back European drinkers.
Heineken, the brewer with the greatest sales in Europe,
said austerity-driven beer excise hikes, such as in France, and
subdued consumer sentiment in Europe and the United States were
hitting demand, with little improvement seen.
Chief Executive Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said trading
conditions would most probably remain challenging after a first
half he acknowledged was below the group's expectations.
"Certainly for Europe and North America we don't see any
substantial trading condition change for fast-moving consumer
goods and our industry in particular," he said.
Carlsberg CEO Jorgen Buhl Rasmussen echoed that view for
Western Europe at least, saying the region would be challenging
Heineken's Van Boxmeer said that brewers had suffered from a
slowdown of growth in traditionally high-growth countries, such
as Brazil and in Africa.
"I would not make the projection that the growth rates we
were used to before would reignite."
However, Asian demand was strong.
The world's top brewers are relying on emerging markets for
growth given a prolonged squeeze on incomes in austerity-hit
Europe and limited U.S. expansion, but such growth has been
uneven, with weakness this year in Brazil and Nigeria.
NO SUNSHINE FROM RUSSIA
Heineken, the world's third largest brewer, reported
first-half operating profit above the average in a Reuters poll,
but earnings per share below market forecasts.
World number four Carlsberg, which is market leader in
Russia, slightly lagged market forecasts for operating profit
and revenue in its second quarter after strong Asian growth
failed to compensate for sluggish Europe.
The Danish brewer kept its 2013 guidance but cut its
forecast for the Russian beer market growth to a
mid-single-digit percentage point decline from a previous
forecast of a flat market after a first half hit by slower
economic growth and a ban on beer sales from kiosks.
Morten Imsgard, analyst at Sydbank, said Carlsberg was
gaining market share in Russia, but the market was in poor
shape. "The process of getting consumers into supermarkets from
kiosks has proven more difficult than Carlsberg had expected.
2013 will not be a sunshine story in Russia," he said.
Heineken shares dropped as much as 4 percent and were among
the weakest performers in the FTSEurofirst 300 index of
leading European stocks.
Carlsberg shares were broadly flat at 1100 GMT.
Heineken has raised the target of its latest cost-saving
plan by 100 million euros to 625 million euros ($840 million)
and has benefited from warmer weather in Europe from July. Van
Boxmeer said a good summer could not make up for a poor spring.
Dirk Van Vlaanderen, beverage analyst at Jefferies, said
Carlsberg's outlook was realistic and in line with the current
market consensus, but Heineken's outlook of flat net profit
compared with market expectations of a small rise.
"They are not cheap, trading at 17 times price to earnings
next year, the same as AB InBev but not with the same growth
profile," he said.
World number two SABMiller also suffered from a
cold, damp spring, while AB InBev saw
volumes decline but improved margins in both the United States