Heineken, the world's third-largest brewer, forecast its beer sales and profit margins would grow by a slower rate in 2015 after a year swelled by emerging market expansion and the soccer World Cup. 

The Dutch brewer, the top seller in Europe with brands such also including Amstel, benefited from increased beer sales in Africa, the Americas and Asia. 

Sales and profits were broadly flat in western Europe, while eastern Europe was clearly weaker. 

Consolidated operating profit before one-off items rose 6.4% to €3.13 billion, just above the average of €3.11 billion in a Reuters poll. 

Heineken said it expected revenue to grow in 2015, but with slower expansion of beer sales than in 2014, partly because of strong increases in the first half of last year. 

Heineken has suffered in the past from contraction in Europe, which offset the effect of expansion in developing markets, notably southeast Asia, Mexico, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

However, Europe was less of a drag last year, with western European revenue up 0.3% and operating profit down by just 0.1%. 

Europe as a whole was responsible for about half of group revenue and just over a third of operating profit last year.