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Feb. 25, 2021, 2:17 a.m. EST

AB InBev delivers upbeat outlook after profit jump

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By Ian Walker

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA on Thursday reported a rise in fourth-quarter net profit as it booked much lower finance costs--beating market forecasts--and said that it expects to report improved earnings for 2021 compared with 2020.

The world's largest brewer--with brands such as Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona--said own-beer volumes rose 1.8% in the fourth quarter on an organic basis. North America fell 0.7%, South America rose 11.4% and Asia Pacific fell 3.1%.

For the quarter, AB InBev made a net profit of $2.27 billion, compared with $114 million a year earlier and a consensus of $2.63 billion, taken from FactSet and based on four analysts' forecasts.

Normalized earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization--one of the company's preferred metrics, which strips out exceptional and other one-off items--was $5.07 billion, compared with $5.34 billion a year earlier and a consensus of $4.70 billion, taken from FactSet and based on five analysts' forecasts.

Revenue for the quarter was $12.77 billion, down from $13.33 billion, and compared with forecasts of $12.65 billion taken from FactSet and based on nine analysts' estimates. On an organic basis, revenue was up 4.5%, the company said.

The board has declared a dividend of 50 European cents (60.85 U.S. cents).

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

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