Lion Nathan growth boosted by premium and low-carb categories

Posted by James Ferre on 19th February 2009

ASX-listed brewer Lion Nathan has today reported a 7 per cent rise in net sales revenue for the first quarter as consumer demand for premium and low-carb continues to grow.

“Lion Nathan Australia’s positive momentum and focus has translated into pleasing first quarter results with … beer volume growth of 9% to 221 million litres,” the company said in a statement. “The Australian beer market remains robust with a growth rate of 2.3% for the quarter and 0.2% on a MAT basis as measured by AC Nielsen.”

“Consumers continue to move towards premium and step-up beers and the low-carb and midstrength categories remain in healthy growth,” Lion Nathan reported. “XXXX Gold, Tooheys Extra Dry, James Squire and Hahn Super Dry all performed strongly over the first quarter.”

Boags also remained a key growth driver, the company advised.

New Zealand growth was not as strong, with 1% volume growth largely driven by their wine, spirits and RTD categories. Consumers were also trading up in New Zealand, the brewer noted.

The fine wine sector had taken a hit and their wine division, which only represents about 3% of the company’s EBIT (earnings before interest and tax), was expected toface difficult trading conditions with the bushfires affecting this year’s vintage.

Lion Nathan said they had spent $3 million in their pursuit of Coca-Cola Amatil and were disappointed a deal could not be reached. “We tabled a compelling and attractive proposal at a 30% premium,” Lion Nathan CEO, Rob Murray, suggested. “Given the accepted industrial logic of a combination, it is disappointing CCA shareholders did not get a chance to consider our offer on its merits.”

Net profit after tax is still anticipated to be between $300-$315 million after the first quarter results met their forecasts.

“Our business is in robust shape thanks to the investments that we have made in recent years to drive growth,” Mr Murray said. “The beer market is resilient and our largest business units continue to deliver high quality results.”