DENMARK – Carlsberg Group reported 5.4% growth in revenue to DKK 65.902 billion (US$9.75 billion) for the full year ended 31 December, 2019.

Carlsberg’s annual organic operating profit went up of 10.5% while net profit for the period increased 23.7% to DKK 6,569m (US$971m). The company’s adjusted earnings per share grew 16.5% to DKK 41.

During the period, the Danish brewer saw its total organic volume grow by 0.1% led by double digit growth in the 1664 Blanc brand (29%), 16% rise in craft & speciality volume and 14% growth in Somersby.

Other brands grew volumes by single digit excepts for Carlsberg beer brand which declined by 3%. Volumes of Grimbergen grew by 3%, Tuborg rose by 2% while alcohol-free brew volume increased by 7%.

On 30 January, the company concluded the 2019 DKK 4.5bn (US$666m) share buy-back and has initiate a new 12-month share buy-back programme worth DKK 5bn (US$740m).

CEO Cees ’t Hart said: “We’re pleased with our results in 2019. We saw healthy top-line growth, strong margin improvement and strong cash flow.

“In recent years, we’ve strengthened our business considerably, and we’ll continue to execute on our SAIL’22 priorities and further reinforce our Funding the Journey culture to support long-term growth and value creation for shareholders.

“The 2019 results allow us to once again make a significant cash return to our shareholders, as shown by the Supervisory Board’s decision to recommend a dividend increase of 17% to DKK 21 and to initiate a DKK 5.0bn share buy-back programme.”

Carlsberg now expects a mid-single-digit percentage organic growth in operating profit for its 2020 financila year as the coronavirus outbreak threatens to crimp beer consumption in Asia.

The Danish brewer extended the shutdown of some breweries in China, where the authorities lengthened the Lunar New Year holiday in an effort to contain the outbreak.

“We are facing a more volatile business environment including the current coronavirus outbreak in China, of which the full impact is not yet known,” the company said in a conference call.

Stiff competition in Russia, and a new drunken-driving law in Vietnam are also expected to weigh down on beer consumption and subsequent performance of the brewer in those markets.