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May 7, 2020, 1:35 a.m. EDT

AB InBev swings to loss, sees bigger 2Q virus hit

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By Ian Walker

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA said Thursday that it expects second-quarter volumes to fall more than in the first quarter, as it reported a swing to net loss for the first three months.

The world's largest brewer--with brands such as Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra--said volumes fell 9.3% in the first quarter, and were down 3.6% excluding China. It added that global volumes in April have fallen 32%, mainly due to shutdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

For the quarter ended March 31, AB InBev made a net loss of $2.25 billion compared with a profit of $3.57 billion a year earlier. Normalized earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization--one of the company's preferred numbers which strips out exceptional and other one-off items, was $3.95 billion compared with $4.80 billion for the first quarter of 2019.

Revenue for the quarter was $11.00 billion, down from $12.22 billion.

On April 14, the company halved its final dividend for 2019 to 50 European cents (54 U.S. cents) because of the uncertainty and volatility caused by the new coronavirus.

Late in March, the company withdrew its guidance for the year due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus on its business.

"We have exercised prudent financial discipline with several proactive measures, including optimizing our cost base, revising our final 2019 dividend proposal and maintaining a strong liquidity position," AB InBev said Thursday.

Write to Ian Walker at ian.walker@wsj.com; @IanWalk40289749

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