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'Challenging' year hits beer sales at Heineken

(Sharecast News) - Dutch brewer Heineken struck a sober tone on Wednesday, after price rises during a "challenging" year hit volumes. The world's second-biggest brewer said revenues in the year to December end rose 4.9% to €36.4bn.

But beer volumes fell 4.7% on an organic basis, while net profits slid 14.1% to €2.3bn.

Stripping out exceptional items and amortisation, operating profits rose 1.7% to €4.4bn, ahead of most forecasts for no change.

But net profits on the same basis fell 4.3% to €2.6bn.

Dolf van den Brink, chief executive, said: "After a strong 2022, 2023 proved to be challenging. Strong pricing to offset very high input and energy cost inflation and volatile macroeconomic conditions in some key markets affected our volume momentum.

"Looking to 2024, we remain cautious about the global economic and geopolitical outlook.

"Our focus going forward will be on revenue growth, balanced between volume and value, by continuing to invest behind our brands, innovations, commercial capabilities and route-to-consumer to deliver long-term sustained value creation."

Heineken, which also makes brands including Tiger, Amstel and Sol, said it expected low-to-high single digit operating profit organic growth before one-off items in 2024.

Analysts were expecting 9.9% organic operating profit growth this year.

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