Analysts were taken by surprise by the positive performance of Heineken. Due to solid beer sales in Asia and Europe the world’s second largest brewer could even outperform a strong first quarter last year while industry observers expected declining sales.
Heineken reported rising sales by 0.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis with the Asia Pacific region strong at +5.4%. Europe increased by 0.5% on these terms thanks to optimizations in the home market the Netherlands as well as in France, Spain, Italy and Austria.
“In Africa, Middle East & Eastern Europe market conditions remain challenging, adversely impacting volume," Chief Executive Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said in a statement on Wednesday. Sales dropped sharply in Nigeria, Russia and Brazil and were only partly offset by a strong performance in Mexico.
Net profit in the first quarter of 2017 was €293 million ($314m), up 10.6% from €265 million ($284m) in 2016. "Performance in the first quarter was in line with expectations, delivering volume growth against strong comparatives last year," commented van Boxmeer.
In 2016, Heineken's over all beer volume sale grew 7%, with an exceptional increase of 23% in Asia and 8% in the Americas.