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Nov. 13, 2014, 2:59 a.m. EST

SABMiller flags tough conditions even as profit up

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By Peter Evans

LONDON-- SABMiller PLC said Thursday that trading conditions would remain tough in many of its markets as it reported a rise in half-year profit.

The world's No. 2 brewer posted net profit of $1.97 billion for the six months to Sept. 30, compared with $1.71 billion a year earlier, on revenue 2% higher at $11.37 billion.

The maker of Peroni, Grolsch and Miller Genuine Draft said lager volumes fell slightly in the period on lower demand in Europe and parts of Asia.

SAB's soft drink volumes increased 9%. The company is a bottler for Coca-Cola Co. in many parts of the world. Its soft-drinks business makes up around 20% of sales by volume, although the profit margin is lower than beer.

The company said it expected trading conditions to remain difficult for the rest of its financial year.

SAB in September had a takeover approach for Heineken NV rejected by the Dutch company. Analysts speculated that SAB's overture was an attempt to ward off a long-rumored takeover from Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world's No. 1 brewer. SAB Chief Executive Alan Clark last month rejected that theory, saying the Heineken move was "assertive not defensive."

Write to Peter Evans at peter.evans@wsj.com

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