* Q3 operating profit 3.60 bln DKK, vs 3.72 bln forecast
* Revenue 18.8 bln DKK, vs 18.6 bln forecast
* Keeps 2012 outlook unchanged
* Says gained Russian market share
* Shares rise 3.8 pct
(Adds details, background, CEO, analyst quotes, share price)
By Mette Fraende
COPENHAGEN, Nov 7 Danish brewer Carlsberg
said a drive to focus on its top brands and major
supermarket customers had revived sales in its key Russian beer
market in the teeth of tougher regulations and rising taxes.
Like other big brewers, Carlsberg is relying on emerging
markets and price rises to offset sluggish demand in western
Europe and stiff competition in mature markets.
But its leading position in Russia has been hampered by a
government drive aimed at curbing alcohol abuse, with measures
taken including excise tax increases and a ban on advertising in
all media, including the internet.
The world's fourth-largest brewer said on Wednesday its
share of Russia's beer market, where its brands include
top-seller Baltika and Tuborg, rose to 38.9 percent in the third
quarter from 37.9 percent in April-June.
Its Russian beer sales rose about two percent, contrasting
with a 2-3 percent fall in the market overall.
"We are seeing clear signs that we are on the right track in
Russia," chief executive Jorgen Buhl Rasmussen told analysts.
A year ago, Carlsberg replaced the head of Russian division
Baltika Breweries to address slowing sales.
It has increased its focus on best-selling brands, cutting
out those which have not sold well, and taken a more targeted
approach to marketing in a country which is seeing a shift from
small, local stores to large supermarkets.
"The market share data for the third quarter is an
indication that these initiatives are starting to bear fruit,"
A BATTLE FOR GIANTS
With the improvement in the third quarter, Carlsberg has
increased its market share in Russia for three consecutive
quarters following a string of declines.
Rivals including Anadolu Efes, which is owned by
world No. 2 SABMiller, and Dutch group Heineken
lost market share in the quarter, while Anheuser-Busch
InBev held its ground, Carlsberg said.
Carlsberg shares were up 3.8 percent at 537.5 Danish crowns
by 1250 GMT, one of the biggest rises by a European blue-chip
"The result is particularly positive in Russia," said
Sydbank analyst Morten Imsgard. "I see this as a sign that they
are in control of the Russian business."
Group operating profit rose almost 10 percent to 3.6 billion
crowns ($618 million) in the quarter, compared with a forecast
for 3.72 billion crowns in a Reuters poll. Sales grew to 18.8
billion crowns against a forecast 18.6 billion.
Eastern Europe and Asian sales cushioned continued sluggish
demand in western Europe, where sales contributed 55 percent of
total group revenue while eastern Europe made up 32 percent.
"The positive is that they grew in Russia in the third
quarter," Alm Brand analyst Stig Nymann said.
Carlsberg kept its 2012 outlook for operating profit before
one-off items to be at the same level as in 2011 when it reached
9.82 billion crowns.
($1 = 5.8276 Danish crowns)
(Editing by Dan Lalor and Mark Potter)