Heineken, the world's third-largest brewer, reported better than expected sales growth in the first quarter, thanks to strong demand in China and Vietnam over the lunar new year.
Beer volumes grew 11 per cent in the first three months of the year or 7 per cent excluding currency effects - well ahead of analysts' expectations of a 2.3 per cent rise in organic volumes.
However, the Dutch brewer cautioned that the Nigerian market was getting tougher as people trading down to cheaper beers, while the possibility of a devaluation of the naira “continues to impact the business adversely“.
Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer and Heineken's second largest market, has been hard hit by the fall in oil prices and consumers face higher food and fuel bills, leaving less to spend on beer.
Although Nigeria performed strongly in the first quarter - driving all the growth in beer volumes in Africa and the Middle East - the Dutch brewer warned that this growth had been “flattered“ by a low base for comparison last year and that “forthcoming quarters will be more difficult“.
Jean-François van Boxmeer, chairman and chief executive, said: “This has been a good first quarter supported by a strong Vietnamese and Chinese new year period and the earlier timing of Easter.“
He stuck to the group's full-year targets - of growth in dales and profits and an improvement in operating profit margins of 0.4 percentage points - but warns that currency volatility “continues to weigh on tesults“.
Net profits for the quarter fell to €265m from €579m in the same period last year, but last year's figure included an exceptional gain of €379m from the sale of its Empaque packaging business.
Heineken said it expected an €80m currency hit on full-year operating profits - up from €60m - and a €50m hit to net profits, previously €35m.
Describing the results as “strong“, analysts at Canaccord Genuity highlighted the robust performance of Brazil, where many consumer companies have been hit by a weaker economy.
Fazit: Bier ist alkoholisches Wasser.