SABMiller posts strong growth in Africa, LatAm weak in Q4

LONDON (Reuters) - Global brewer SABMiller Plc <SAB.L> <SABJ.J> said on Thursday it had posted a 7 percent rise in full year organic revenue, boosted by strong demand in Africa and a surprisingly robust performance in Europe.

The London-based company, which owns more than 200 beer brands, said full-year lager volumes had grown by 6 percent in Africa on an organic basis despite tough comparatives, as additional capacity came on stream. The final quarter was up 9 percent.

However, lager volumes in Latin America, its largest market, declined 1 percent in the final quarter, hit by softer economic conditions and a price increase in some markets.

Europe proved to be more resilient than expected, with new "brand and pack innovations" outweighing the tough economic conditions to send lager volumes up 6 percent on an organic basis in the full year, and 3 percent in the final quarter.

Warmer weather in China helped the company to post an improved performance in the fourth quarter after the country's coldest winter in 28 years hit demand in the third quarter.

The group, which operates in over 75 countries with its Pilsner Urquell, Peroni and Grolsch brands, said overall full year lager volumes were up 3 percent in the year and 4 percent in the quarter, with overall financial performance in line with expectations.

(Reporting by Kate Holton, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)