Carlsberg posts profit rise, looks to Asia for growth

Danish brewer Carlsberg posted a rise in annual profit on Monday and said it would look to Asia for future growth as European consumers cut back on spending amid economic uncertainty.

Net profit rose 9.0 percent to 5.607 billion kroner (751.2 million euros or $1.002 billion) in 2012 despite a declining European market and a stalling market in Russia, where the Danish company is a major player.

"The group delivered a good performance in 2012, despite a challenging Western European beer market," chief executive Joergen Buhl Rasmussen said in a statement.

Several European markets were hit by bad weather last year, he said.

"In Asia, we will look to capitalise on the attractive growth opportunities available," he added.

Fourth-quarter operating profit before special items -- a measure watched closely by industry observers -- came in at 2.152 billion kroner, which was slightly below the 2.28 billion kroner expected by analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

"For 2013, the Carlsberg Group expects beer market dynamics for all three regions to be similar to 2012," the company said.

Carlsberg, the world's fourth-biggest brewer, said it would invest between 300 million and 400 million kroner this year in a project that would streamline its supply chain in Western Europe.

"The purpose is to improve capabilities, customer service and efficiency, increase speed and optimise asset utilisation," it said.

The group said it expected adjusted net profit to increase "by a mid-single-digit percentage" this year.

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