UPDATE 2-AB InBev sharply hikes dividend, plans $1 bln share buyback

jueves 26 de febrero de 2015 04:39 GYT

* Total dividend 3.00 euros from 2.05 euros for 2013

* Plans $1 bln share buyback

* Sees better industry volumes in U.S., Mexico, China

* Q4 core profit $5.07 bln vs Reuters poll consensus of $5.30 bln (Updates after conference call, adds shares)

By Philip Blenkinsop

LEUVEN, Belgium, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Anheuser-Busch InBev , the world's largest brewer, announced a sharply higher dividend and a $1-billion share buyback on Thursday, promising increased investor returns in years ahead.

It also forecast improved beer sales in most of its major markets this year, particularly with the growth in emerging markets of higher priced premium brands such as Budweiser, 60 percent of which is now sold outside the United States.

The cash-rich, Belgium-based company proposed a total dividend of 3.00 euros for 2014, a jump from 2.05 euros for 2013. Analysts had on average been expecting 2.92 euros.

"Our goal is to reach a dividend yield of 3-4 percent in line with other consumer goods companies," Chief Financial Officer Felipe Dutra told a conference call after a 2014 payout equivalent to 2.7 percent.   Continuación...