Carlsberg saw group operating profit drop in 2012 after its Russian market stalled and European sales declined (Reuters)

Carlsberg Group, the Danish brewer of beers such as Tuborg and Tetley's, posted lower-than-expected profits in the fourth quarter after falling European sales and flat performance in its Russian market.

Its shares tumbled in early trading in Copenhagen, falling by more than 5 percent.

Group operating profit for the full year in 2012 slumped by 5 percent to 5.8bn Danish krone (£670m/€777m), though overall revenue growth was up three percent on the year before to 9.8bn Danish krone.

"The Group delivered a good performance in 2012, despite a challenging Western European beer market," said Jørgen Buhl Rasmussen, Carlsberg chief executive, announcing the company's full-year results.

It scrapped its medium-term profit margin targets because global economic uncertainty, notably volatile input prices, and internal events such as supply chain integration made it difficult to meet these goals.

Carlsberg's beer sales volumes in Europe dropped by six percent in Europe across the year, as Russian stocks dwindled and production in Uzbekistan was suspended because of a lack of raw materials after currency conversion difficulties.

However, the world's fourth largest brewer managed to increase its market share in key parts of the developing world, including India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Nepal and Malaysia.