Carlsberg Q4 profit triple amid focus on cost-cuts

By the Associated Press | February 20, 2012 | 4:15 AM EST

COPENHAGEN (AP) — Danish brewer Carlsberg said Monday its net profit nearly tripled in the fourth quarter with higher revenues and a focus on cost-cuts, but said the market climate remains challenging.

The company said net profit for the quarter, ending Dec. 31, rose to 912 million Danish kroner ($161 million) from 316 million kroner a year earlier, while full-year profits dropped by 4 percent to 5.1 billion kroner from 5.4 billion kroner in 2010.

Revenue for the fourth quarter increased to 14.9 billion kroner from 13.4 billion kroner in the same period a year ago.

In 2012, Carlsberg expects operating profit before special items to remain at the same level as in 2011, while adjusted net profit is expected to grow slightly.

The outlook disappointed analysts and Carlsberg shares dropped 2.6 percent to 418 kroner ($73.8) in early trading on the Copenhagen stock exchange.

The fourth-quarter profit improvement was driven by stock building in Russia by distributors, different phasing of marketing investments compared to the fourth quarter last year, execution of contingency plans in Europe following the poor summer and overall cost consciousness, Carlsberg said.

"While 2011 was a challenging year with headwinds from rising input costs and a challenging Russian market, our Northern and Western European and Asian regions continued to perform well, both commercially and financially," CEO Joergen Buhl Rasmussen said in a statement.

"We maintained our focus on profitable development by balancing volume and value share, which led to share growth in both volume and value in Northern and Western Europe and Asia, but in the case of Russia resulted in market share loss due to a high level of promotional activities from competitors," he added.

The CEO said the company will invest to grow its market share in 2012 and will continue to improve efficiency, while also exploring acquisition opportunities in growth markets.

The company proposed to raise the 2011 dividend by 10 percent to 5.5 kroner (0.97) per share.