Corona maker AB InBev warns of profits fall after £132m coronavirus hit

Brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev has warned over the steepest decline in quarterly profit for at least a decade after coronavirus cost it around 170 million US dollars (£132 million) in lost profit.

The world’s biggest brewing giant, which is behind the Corona, Budweiser and Stella Artois brands, forecast first quarter earnings will tumble by about 10% after the virus outbreak saw demand slump in China as it also coincided with the Chinese New Year, sending its shares 8% lower.

AB InBev estimates the earnings hit across China after seeing around 285 million US dollars (£221 million) of lost sales in the first two months of 2020 alone due to coronavirus – also known as Covid-19.

The Belgium-based group said: “The impact of the Covid-19 virus outbreak on our business continues to evolve.

“The outbreak has led to a significant decline in demand in China in both on-premise and in-home channels.

“Additionally, demand during the Chinese New Year was lower than in previous years as it coincided with the beginning of this outbreak.”

Its warning comes amid a swathe of company alerts over the impact of coronavirus on demand and supply, with Microsoft also adding to the growing list.

The US tech giant revealed overnight it will miss revenue guidance for its Windows and Surfaces businesses and blamed uncertainty over coronavirus and an impact on its supply chain, while a raft of UK firms also revealed the toll taken on Thursday, including banking giant Standard Chartered.

AB InBev also admitted its 2019 performance was “below our expectations” as net profits slumped to 114 million US dollars (£88 million) in the final three months from 456 million US dollars (£353 million) a year earlier.

Underlying earnings fell 3% over the full-year to 21.1 billion US dollars (£16.3 billion).