BRUSSELS, April 22 -- Heineken NV, the world's third largest brewer, reported stronger than expected revenue growth in the first quarter on Wednesday, boosted by sales of Mexican lagers and drinking over the New Year in Vietnam.
Heineken said consolidated revenue in the Jan-March period grew by 2.0 percent on a like-for-like basis to 4.34 billion euros ($4.66 billion), above market expectations.
Volume and revenue growth in the first quarter was far strongest in Asia, thanks to double-digit percentage expansion in Vietnam and Cambodia, followed by the Americas, where Heineken brews in Mexico and exports into the United States.
African and Middle East beer sales growth slowed to 0.9 percent from 10.3 percent a year earlier, partly due to low oil prices hitting consumer confidence in Nigeria.
In Europe, weak Russia and a duty increase in Italy resulted in lower sales in the region.
The brewer, which is aiming to improve its operating profit margin by around 40 basis points per year, retained its previous full-year outlook.
It has said it expects revenue to grow this year, but with slower expansion of beer sales than in 2014, when the soccer World Cup and emerging markets swelled the first half.
It also forecast in February that, all things being equal, it could gain 130 million euros in operating profit this year from the weaker euro.
Countering that, it expects a 25 basis point hit to its operating margin this year following its divestment of its Mexican packaging business.
Rival SABMiller, the world number two, said last week that it had sold more lager in the January-March period as demand rose in many emerging markets ahead of Easter holidays and sales in China recovered after poor summer weather. ($1 = 0.9316 euros)