Despite a slump in the Russian beer market, one of the company's main growth drivers, Danish brewer Carlsberg A/S reported a 14% rise in nine-month operating profits today, broadly in line with expectations. The brewer also maintained its full-year financial outlook.
Operating profit rose to DKK3.26 billion (US$436.8m) in the January-September period, while net sales were up 5% to DKK26.9 billion, with beer the main driver. Sales of soft drinks were flat.

Eastern European operations reported a 14% drop in operating profit to DKK468 million with growth in Carlsberg's half-owned Russian unit, Baltic Beverages Holding (BBH), at 4%. And there is expected to be a fall off in full year growth compared to 2001 in the region. 

Russia is particularly important to Carlsberg as one of its fast growth markets, but there has been a sudden slump in beer sales there.

The domestic Danish market grew only 1% in the period. However Carlsberg's operating profit for its biggest segment, Western Europe, rose 11% to DKK891m from DKK803m on the back of stronger sales in the Nordic countries, the UK, Italy and Portugal.

Looking ahead Carlsberg A/S repeated its belief it would achieve a 15% rise in operating profit for the full year 2002. This is based on expectations of a 20% rise in Carlsberg Breweries's operating profit on a higher revenue.