Heineken's Asian gains outweigh African decline
BRUSSELS Aug 1 (Reuters) - Heineken, the world's third-largest brewer, reported slightly better than expected first-half operating profit on Monday as strength in Asia and Western Europe offset declining sales in Africa and Eastern Europe.
The brewer of Heineken, Europe's best-selling lager, Tiger and Sol said that despite poor economic conditions in some developing markets and the impact of currencies, operating margins should expand in line with its medium-term target of about 40 basis points per year.
The company said its performance in Vietnam and Mexico had been strong, but it suffered weaker results in Russia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Egypt and major market Nigeria.
Nigeria abandoned its 16-month currency peg tying the naira to the dollar in June to alleviate a chronic foreign currency shortage choking growth in Africa's biggest economy hit by a slump in oil prices. The naira has fallen by almost 40 percent since.
First-half operating profit before one-offs rose 12.6 percent on a like-for-like basis to 1.71 billion euros ($1.91 billion), above the average 1.67 billion euro expectation in a Reuters poll.
Net profit was up 11.2 percent at 977 million euros, just below the average expectation of 998 million euros. ($1 = 0.8949 euros) (Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)
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