(Bloomberg) -- Delta Corp. Ltd., Zimbabwe’s biggest company by market capitalization, said Thursday that revenue grew 40 percent in the first quarter, mainly on increased lager beer sales.
In its annual report for the year ended March 31, Delta, which is 37 percent owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, attributed higher volumes to increased consumer demand as the political climate improved following former president Robert Mugabe’s exit in November. The increased acceptance of electronic methods of payment by consumers had eased the impact of the country’s chronic shortage of cash notes, it said. Delta didn’t answer calls made Thursday.
Lager beer volume was up 56 percent over the prior year for the quarter, matching the highest since 2009 when Zimbabwe abolished its own currency, adopting a so-called multi currency economy in which the dollar dominates trade. Prior to 2009, Zimbabwe’s inflation peaked at 500 billion percent according to the International Monetary Fund, crippling retailers as shop shelves sat empty of goods, including beverages.
Sparkling beverages, or soda, volumes rose 23 percent over the same period last year, reflecting sales of drinks like Coca-Cola and Fanta. Sales of sorghum beer, also known as opaque beer, fell five percent mainly on shortages of packaging as Zimbabwe grapples with foreign-currency shortages to finance imports.
The company will pay a dividend of 2 cents per share on July 31.
Delta returned to profit and higher production last year after two consecutive years of decline as Zimbabwe’s economy was ravaged by shortages of inputs and foreign currency.
Delta bought a controlling stake in National Breweries Plc in neighboring Zambia in 2017, its first acquisition outside Zimbabwe. National Breweries’ volumes rose 21 percent in the quarter that ended June 30, Delta said in its report, mainly on improved supply and competitive pricing.
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