The brewer behind Corona beer has warned of the steepest decline in quarterly profit for at least a decade after the coronavirus outbreak cost it $170 million (£132 million) in lost profit. 

Anheuser-Busch InBev”‹ is the world’s biggest brewing giant and is also behind the Budweiser and Stella Artois brands. 

It forecast that its first-quarter earnings will tumble by about 10 per cent after the virus saw demand slump in China.

The outbreak also coincided with the Chinese New Year, sending the company’s shares 8 per cent lower.  

AB InBev estimates the earnings hit across China after seeing around $285 million (£221 million) of lost sales in the first two months of 2020 alone due to 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.”

Last month USA Today reported Google searches in the US for “Corona beer virus” and “beer virus” spiked amid other searches related to “coronavirus symptoms”, which saw a 1,050 per cent increase.

AB InBev’s 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.