Heineken's Beer Shipments Held Back by Europe's Snowy Winter

(Bloomberg) -- A snowy European winter damped demand for Heineken NV’s beer during the first quarter.

Shipments rose 4.3 percent in the period, the Amsterdam-based company said Wednesday. That was below a Bloomberg-compiled analyst estimate though above a company-provided consensus. The shares fell as much as 3.6 percent.

The cold spell in Europe reduced demand in markets such as France, Spain and Austria, Heineken said in a statement. Mass-market lagers were already losing ground in the region to fruitier beers such as sour brews and pale ales. The weakness in Europe offset a strong performance in Asia, where Heineken’s Tiger brand has been driving growth in markets such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

The results were “satisfactorily in-line,” RBC Europe analyst James Edwardes Jones wrote in a note to investors. The company reiterated that it anticipates an increase in sales and profit in 2018. 

Shipments fell 1.7 percent in Europe as the benefit of an earlier Easter was more than offset by the colder weather, the company said. Volume fell by mid-single-digit percentages in the U.K., while a reduction in promotional activity held back shipments in Poland and the Netherlands.

Profit fell to 260 million euros ($321 million) from 293 million euros a year earlier on a reported basis, the company said.

Heineken, the second-biggest brewer after Anheuser-Busch InBev, is expanding in Africa. It has acquired Stellenbrau, a beer maker based in South Africa’s western Cape, submitted a bid for a local Coca-Cola bottler and built a brewery in Ivory Coast to take on market leader Castel.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.