July 26, 2018 / 5:47 AM / 23 days ago

UPDATE 1-AB InBev gets World Cup boost to beat expectations

(Adds more on revenue, regional breakdown)

By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS, July 26 (Reuters) - Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, grew earnings by more than expected in the second quarter with a solid boost from the soccer World Cup to sales of premium lagers in western Europe, Brazil, Mexico and China.

The Belgium-based company, whose Budweiser brand was a World Cup sponsor, said on Thursday that revenue and core profit would rise strongly in 2018, with growth accelerating in the rest of the year.

Revenues from its global brands Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona, higher margin premium lagers in many markets, rose by 10.1 percent and by 16.7 percent outside their home markets, far outpacing the 4.7 percent increase for the company as a whole.

Second-quarter core profit (EBTIDA) rose 7.0 percent on a like-for-like basis to $5.57 billion, above the average figure in a Reuters poll of $5.49 billion.

AB InBev delivered a further $199 million in synergy gains from its 2016 purchase of SABMiller, but also spent more on advertising and promotions ahead of the World Cup.

Earnings grew in all but one its major markets, including in South Africa despite lower volumes.

In its largest, the United States, its Budweiser and Bud Light lost further market share as consumers traded up to higher-priced beers such as craft, while higher commodity prices and freight costs also weighed. (Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)

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