UPDATE 2-Heineken H1 net beats forecasts, boosted by savings

* H1 net profit 621 mln euros vs poll forecast 595 mln

* H1 cost savings 104 mln euros

* Forecasts low double digit pct growth in 2010 net profit

* Says integration of Mexican business on track

* Shares up 2 pct

(Updates with CEO comments, shares, analyst view)

By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS, Aug 25 (BestGrowthStock) – Heineken NV (HEIN.AS: ), the
world’s third-largest brewer, reported a higher than expected
rise in first-half net profit on Wednesday after cost savings
helped offset lower beer sales in Europe and the United States.

The Dutch-based brewer, whose chief brands are Heineken and
Amstel, Europe’s number one and three beers, said group beer
volumes fell 2.3 percent on a like-for-like basis, but costs
savings, lower raw material and interest costs and its joint
ventures led to a 17 percent rise in net earnings.

Heineken’s shares were up 2.1 percent at 35.5 euros at 0820
GMT, making them among the strongest on the FTSEurofirst 300
index (.FTEU3: ) of leading European stocks.

The company said it remained cautious about beer consumption
in Europe and the United States due to continued weak consumer
spending and planned austerity measures, but expected volumes to
grow in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Heineken’s first-half results included two months from the
beer business of Mexico’s FEMSA (FMSAUBD.MX: )(FMX.N: ), bought to
boost exposure to faster-growing emerging markets.

Just over half of Heineken’s revenue last year came from
western Europe. Heineken said the integration of FEMSA Cerveza
was on track, with synergies due in the second half.
Recent brewing results have been mixed. An upbeat
Anheuser-Busch (ABI.BR: ) forecast greater growth in the second
half after strong sales in Brazil and the soccer World Cup
boosted second-quarter earnings. [ID:nLDE67B04P]

Carlsberg (CARLb.CO: ), the fourth largest brewer, raised its
2010 outlook as the decline due to a tripling of tax on beer
eased in its biggest market, Russia, and the stronger rouble
boosted earnings. [ID:nLDE67G03B]

However, world number two brewer SABMiller (SAB.L: ) last
month reported a decline in beer volumes. [ID:nLDE6650KH]
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For comparison graphic with peers, see

http://r.reuters.com/rag64n
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“ROBUST” FIRST HALF

For the full year, Heineken forecast the percentage growth
of net profit to be at least in low double digits with further
cost savings and price hikes continuing to have some impact.

Heineken’s net profit before one-offs increased to 621
million euros ($783.1 million), boosted by 104 million euros
from cost savings, broadly in Europe. Analysts had on average
expected a net profit of 595 million euros. Operating profit was
in line with expectations, revenue below.

“Costs savings were a little ahead of expectations, FEMSA’s
contribution too,” said Trevor Stirling, analyst at Bernstein
Research.

“I see no reason for the second half to be worse than the
first. Eastern Europe should not be as bad and the U.S. is
improving … The underlying dynamics are healthy”

Chief Executive Jean-Francois van Boxmeer, describing the
first-half as “robust”, said a spike in world grain prices due
to drought in Russia would have little impact as it bought crops
a year in advance and typically hedged before the harvest.

“A big part of our needs for next year we have covered
contractually and laid down our prices … For the remaining
part that we have to cover, we have to wait for the market to
calm down,” Van Boxmeer told a conference call.
($1=.7930 Euro)
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Sharon Lindores,
Simon Jessop and Mark Potter)

UPDATE 2-Heineken H1 net beats forecasts, boosted by savings