On Thursday AB InBev released its first quarter results for 2020 which already showed clearly the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The year started with good momentum and delivered volume growth of 1.9% in the first two months of the year excluding China, where the COVID-19 outbreak began in late January.
The impact of COVID-19 on AB InBev’s global results increased significantly toward the end of the quarter. Consequently, in the total first quarter volume declined by 9.3% and by 3.6% excluding China. Revenue declined by 5.8% while revenue per hl grew by 3.9%. EBITDA of 3,949 million USD represents a decline of 13.7%, with margin contraction of 331 bps to 35.9%.
AB InBev expects that the impact on results in the second quarter 2020 will be materially worse than in the first quarter. This has already become evident in April 2020 global volumes, which declined by approximately 32%, primarily driven by the closure of the on-premise channel in most markets and government restrictions imposed on certain operations of AB InBev in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, China is already on the way of recovery. AB InBev’s volumes in China declined by approximately 17% in April, an improvement from the first quarter decline of 46.5%.
The diverse geographic footprint of AB InBev’s operations allows the group to apply best practices from experiences in China and South Korea to the rest of its markets, as they move through different stages of the crisis and into eventual recovery.