Carlsberg in Q1 $13 million loss as Russia weighs

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Danish brewer Carlsberg reported a first-quarter net loss of 76 million kroner ($13.3 million) as earnings were impacted by lower sales in Russia and eastern Europe.

The loss, reported Wednesday, contrasts with a 173 million kroner profit in the same period last year. However, revenue in the period was up slightly at 12.9 billion kroner ($2.3 billion) from 12.5 billion kroner a year earlier.

Carlsberg CEO Joergen Buhl Rasmussen says the result was in line with expectations during a "traditionally small quarter," when overall beer sales declined 4 percent.

The Carlsberg group said beer shipments in eastern Europe fell by 22 percent as Russian distributors cut inventories by the amount they stocked in the previous quarter, ahead of new regulations in Russia.

Net revenue in the region was also down 15 percent at 3 billion kroner from a year earlier.

Rasmussen said the Copenhagen-based company will improve efficiency and focus on core brands, including Tuborg, and push into new growth markets such as China.

"We are putting significant resources behind the Euro 2012 sponsorship, which will be a key driver behind the support of the repositioning and the growth of the Carlsberg brand in 2012," Rasmussen said, referring to next month's European football tournament.

Carlsberg reaffirmed its outlook, with "low decline" in northern and western Europe and the Russian market "reverting to modest growth."

In Asia, where beer volumes grew by 26 percent in the first quarter, Carlsberg said it expects continued growth," but gave no figures.

The company introduced the Tuborg brand in China in April as part of the "fast growing premium category" in that country, as well as in India.

The Carlsberg Group employs some 41,000 people worldwide with products sold in more than 150 countries. Last year, it sold 34 billion bottles of beer.

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Online:

www.carlsberggroup.com.

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