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Originally published Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 12:26 AM

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SABMiller annual profit up 1.5 pct in tough market

SABMiller PLC, the world's second-largest brewer, on Thursday posted a modest rise in profit for the full year as strong growth in the Americas, where it owns a stake in MillerCoors, helped it through an otherwise difficult market.

The Associated Press

LONDON —

SABMiller PLC, the world's second-largest brewer, on Thursday posted a modest rise in profit for the full year as strong growth in the Americas, where it owns a stake in MillerCoors, helped it through an otherwise difficult market.

SABMiller, brewer of Grolsch, Pilsner Urquell and Peroni Nastro Azzurro beers, said net profit was up 1.5 percent to $1.9 billion in the 12 months ending March 31, and revenue rose 4 percent to $26.4 billion.

Andy Blain, analyst at Shore Capital, said the results were "underwhelming" and rated the shares as "sell."

SABMiller shares were down 4.7 percent to 1,940 pence as the London Stock Exchange opened.

Earnings before interest, taxes and amortization were up 17 percent in Latin America and 7 percent in North America, where SABMiller is a partner in MillerCoors. In Europe, however, earnings were down 8 percent as lager volume fell by 5 percent.

Excluding SABMiller's stake in MillerCoors, revenue was down nearly 4 percent to $18 billion and net profit was down 3.5 percent to $2.08 billion.

Company chairman Meyer Kahn said the company had faced "very difficult trading conditions" during the year.

In the current year, SABMiller said it didn't expect a broad recovery in consumer spending until the second half of its fiscal year, beginning in October.

"Price increases will be taken selectively, predominantly in the second half, and we expect raw material input costs for the year to be level with, or marginally down on, the prior year," the company said.

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