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SABMiller H1 Lager Sales Down 1 Pct

LONDON (AP) ¿ SABMiller PLC, the world's second-largest brewer, said Thursday that volumes of lager sales dropped 1 percent in the first half of its financial year due to weaker consumption in the U.S., Europe and Latin America.

SABMiller, whose international brands include Grolsch, Peroni and Miller Genuine Draft, said trading conditions were difficult across many of its markets in the six months to Sept. 30, but that revenue was supported by price increases taken in the previous year.

It added that financial performance for the half year was in line with expectations but it gave no figures on earnings.

Soft drink volumes were up 1 percent across all regions.

SABMiller has fared better than rivals Heineken NV and Carlsberg A/S in the economic downturn because of its stronger presence in markets like Africa and Asia, which have proved more resilient.

Lager volumes increased 9 percent in Asia and 3 percent in Africa on an organic basis, that is excluding new acquisitions. China was a standout market, with sales volumes growing 12 percent, although the company noted that wet weather and flooding in the Central and Southern regions slowed momentum in the second quarter.

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