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Carlsberg 2010 profits up, takes Russia tax hit

COPENHAGEN, Feb 21, 2011 – Danish brewing giant Carlsberg reported Monday higher 2010 earnings but fell short of fourth quarter analyst forecasts as it took a tax-hike hit in its biggest market, Russia.

"2010 was an extraordinary year for the group due to the substantial excise duty increase in our largest market," Russia, where the tax on beer soared 200 percent last year, chief executive Joergen Buhl Rasmussen said in a statement.

At the same time, the company said "overall beer market trends improved in 2010 … Importantly, the Russian market was stronger than the group anticipated at the beginning of the year."

Carlsberg, the world\’s fourth-biggest brewer, saw its full-year 2010 net profit jump 49 percent to 5.4 billion kroner (720 million euros, $980 million) while sales edged up one percent at 60.1 billion kroner.

The Danish company also reported a consolidated profit up 43 percent at 5.96 billion kroner, above forecasts of analysts polled by SME Direkt at around 5.49 billion kroner.

Sales missed expectations of 60.38 billion for the year.

In the fourth quarter alone, the picture was grimmer, with sales down 1.6 percent at 13.39 billion kroner and a net profit at 301 million kroner, down from 383 million kroner in the last three months of 2009.

That missed analyst forecasts polled by the Dow Jones Newswires for a net profit of 433 million kroner in the quarter.

Carlsberg\’s consolidated profit tumbled 21.4 percent to 380 million kroner.

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Going forward, things look brighter, Rasmussen insisted.

"For 2011, we believe market dynamics will improve slightly, not least in Eastern Europe where we anticipate the Russian market to return to growth," he said.

"We will roll out innovations and market tools to support growth during 2011," he said, as the company stressed it expected to see more than 20 percent growth in its adjusted net profit this year.

Carlsberg also said it expected to see its market share swell "in markets representing two thirds of our business (with) … high single-digit percentage growth in operating profit."

Following the result, Carlsberg shares fell 1.96 percent to 550 kroner in late morning trade on a Copenhagen stock exchange down 0.31 percent.

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