Soft-Drink Maker A.G. Barr Slumps as Soda Tax Erodes Profit

(Bloomberg) -- A.G. Barr Plc shares lost a third of their value after the U.K. soft-drinks maker warned of a slump in full-year profit due to price competition sparked by the country’s soda tax.

The bottler of Rockstar and Rubicon drinks said Tuesday that first-half sales declined about 10% to 123 million pounds ($154 million) and it expects full-year profit to decline as much as 20%. The stock fell as much as 31% in morning trading in London.

Barr called it an “unprecedented year” as the price war coincided with unfavorable weather and shortages of carbon dioxide. The company lowered prices in the start of its fiscal year to drive volume, and has since then raised them again to recoup margins.

The soft-drinks industry has been hurt by the U.K.’s decision to impose a tax on sugary drinks, a measure that Boris Johnson has pledged he will review if he replaces Theresa May as prime minister.

Shares of rivals also declined. Britvic Plc dropped as much as 3.8%, while Fevertree Drinks Plc fell as much as 2.8%.

Britvic has been faring better as it revamped its strategy. Revenue of the Hemel Hempstead, England-based company rose in the first half as it released variants of Robinsons beverages in glass bottles targeting adults and featuring stevia-sweetened flavors such as raspberry, rhubarb and orange blossom.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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