SABMiller PLC (>> SABMiller plc), the world's second-biggest beer maker, reported a 5 percent rise in first-half revenues on Tuesday as higher prices offset the impact of lower beer sales.
The brewer of Miller Lite, Grolsch and Peroni said the volume of beer sold during the six months to the end of September fell 1 percent, including a 3 percent decline in the latest quarter.
In the Asia Pacific region, overall drinks volume fell 3 percent in the first half with an 8 percent drop in the second quarter. Beer volume in China "declined markedly" during July and August, the company said, as poor weather in most of the central provinces meant people drank less lager.
Including soft drinks, such as the ones SABMiller sells for Coca-Cola (>> The Coca-Cola Company), first-half drinks volume rose 1 percent, as gains in Latin America, Africa and Europe offset declines in Asia Pacific and North America.
For the second quarter, revenue rose 3 percent as overall sales volume fell 1 percent.
SABMiller has been trying to offset sluggish growth in developed markets with cost cuts and acquisitions. It approached Dutch rival Heineken (>> HEINEKEN) about a takeover last month but was rebuffed.
Many analysts and investors saw the move as a defensive one, aimed at bulking up to fend off an approach from larger rival Anheuser Busch InBev (>> ANHEUSER-BUSCH INBEV). SAB Chief Executive Alan Clark last week denied this.
SAB's stock soared to an all-time-high of 3,857 pence on Sept. 15, fuelled by hopes the long-rumoured InBev takeover was imminent, but have since fallen nearly 16 percent, closing on Monday at 3,250 pence.
Its shares were down 1.6 percent on Tuesday, shortly after the market opened at 0800 GMT (09:00 a.m. BST).
(Reporting by Martinne Geller; editing by David Clarke)