Earlier this month, Anheuser-Busch InBev released its full-year results for 2016. While describing the 12-month period as "difficult", the brewer posted a 3% slip in sales and a near-8% decline in operating profits. Here, just-drinks considers ABI's performance over the last five years.

Anheuser-Busch InBev's Full-Year Sales 2012-2016

Source: Company results

Up until 2014, ABI appeared relentless in its sales growth: Between 2012 and 2014, the group's top-line jumped by over 18%. However, the ceiling was hit when, in 2015 it fell by over 7% on the year-prior. Last year's performance includes three months of SABMiller's business - ABI completed its $103bn takeover in early-October.

Anheuser-Busch InBev's Full-Year Sales by Region 2012-2015

Source: Company results

Be aware that here, where we consider the sales performance on a regional basis, ABI redrew its reporting regions in its FY-2016 results. A look back over 2012 to 2015, however, offers explanations for why the group made its play for SAB. Even after selling off almost $28bn-worth of its former rival's assets, ABI still has SAB's African footprint to look forward to. While only Asia Pacific has offered anything in the way of sizable growth over the four-year period, an African fillip will not only boost ABI's top-line, it will also help ABI become, as CEO Carlos Brito was all-too-keen to point out as he secured SAB, "a truly global brewer".

Anheuser-Busch InBev's Full-Year Volumes 2012-2016

Source: Company results

Beer is well-known to be a volumes game, and ABI has been consistently strong on this front. Over the five-year period, the company has grown its volumes by approaching 25%. However, the sales-by-value growth between 2012 and 2016 has been only 14.5%, suggesting that premiumisation is by no means a hurdle-free path for the brewer.

Anheuser-Busch InBev's Full-Year Net Profits 2012-2016

Source: Company results

ABI's ability to generate profits is unquestionable, and is driven as much by its sales prowess than by its savings skills. Stripping out the marked slide in 2016 - thanks in no small part to its acquisition of SAB - net profits in the four years prior increased by almost 17%. Sales in the same period, meanwhile, rose by 9.7%.

As the group implements its synergy programme across SAB's assets, we can expect net profits to return to growth in the short term; unless, a tilt at The Coca-Cola Co is in the offing any time soon?

Anheuser-Busch InBev's Full-Year Operating Profits 2012-2016

Source: Company results

Until 2015, ABI saw its operating profits mirror its sales performance. The sales lift and flat operating profits recorded in 2016, then, suggest the pre-SAB organisation was running as efficiently as it was possible to - it also suggests that the SAB synergy programme starts now.

Anheuser-Busch InBev Full-Year 2016 results - Click here for just-drinks' full round-up