LONDON -- In its final results for the year to March 31, SABMiller (LSE: SAB ) (NASDAQOTH: SBMRY ) , the global beverage-brewer and bottler with more than 200 beer brands and Coca-Cola bottling operations, saw group revenue increase by 10% to $34.5 billion and EBITA rise 14% to $6.4 billion, while pre-tax profit fell 16% to $4.7 billion.
The fall in profit before tax was attributed to the previous year being bolstered by exceptional gains. Constant-currency group revenue was up 7%, with revenue per hectoliter up 3% and lager volume up 3%. Growth was seen in all divisions except North America. Constant-currency EBITA growth was 9%, and the profit margin rose to 18.6%.
The strong revenue growth was spearheaded by its developing-market operations in Africa, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, and South Africa. The beverage volume growth of 4% was driven by new product innovations and benefited from investments in new capacity, particularly in Africa. The integration of the Foster's acquisition in Australia is progressing ahead of schedule.
Basic earnings per share fell by 23% to $2.06, although adjusted EPS rose 11% to $2.39. The dividend was increased by 11% to $1.01 per share. Free cash flow rose by 6% to $3.2 billion, and net debt decreased by $2.1 billion to $15.7 billion.
John Manser, acting chairman, commented:
I am delighted to report another year of significant progress and strong results for the group. Through a combination of innovation, effective brand development and good commercial execution we continued to develop the beer category and widen the appeal of our products. Strong growth in our developing markets was supported by investments in additional capacity, commercial capability and distribution reach. Group revenue grew by 10% and the focus on operating efficiencies helped us achieve growth in profit margins.
Looking forward, SABMiller is looking to continue developing beer and soft-drink brand portfolios and tinker with price increases to maximize profit. The group is also looking to focus on cost-saving initiatives including further synergies in Australia. The share price has fallen 2.3% as of 10:30 a.m. EDT, though this is against a backdrop of a 2% fall for the wider market, indicating a fairly neutral response from investors. The long-term prospects of SABMiller remain promising and point to strong growth prospects.
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