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(From AFX Europe (Focus))
BRUSSELS (AFX) - InBev SA pleased the market by eclipsing its long-term operating margin target one year ahead of time after the Belgian group's net profit rocketed on higher sales driven by volume growth in Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe.
The Leuven-based group, the world's biggest beer maker by volume and sales, also continues its drive for cost savings efficiency to target isolated softer volume growth in Western Europe, Asia Pacific and North America and combat increasing commodity costs.
InBev's full-year net profit soared to 1.41 bln eur, from 904.0 mln last year, and in line with 1.35-1.49 bln forecasts. For the fourth quarter, net profit jumped to 371.0 mln eur, from 165.0 mln.
Full-year sales rose to 13.31 bln eur, from 11.66 bln, ahead of 13.19-13.24 bln estimates.
EBITDA for the same period increased to 4.24 bln eur, from 3.34 bln, and to the top end of 4.09-4.25 bln estimates.
The group proposed a full-year dividend of 0.72 eur a share, up from 0.48.
Degroof analyst Marc Leemans said InBev's numbers were "very …