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Brewer AB InBev profits get boost from leading brands

The world’s biggest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, reported Wednesday a sharp increase in first quarter profits as more effective brand management produced improved margins in a tough market.

The Belgian-Brazilian giant said three months to March net profit jumped to $2.29 billion from $1.42 billion over the same period a year earlier.

Sales rose 6.2 percent to $10.6 billion, but by volume sales were down 1.2 percent, reflecting lower beer demand, especially in the United States.

“Our Focus Brands strategy, combined with disciplined execution in the field, enabled us to deliver solid top line growth in the quarter despite challenging market conditions in a number of our countries,” InBev said.

The company, formed in 2008 by the merger of Belgian-Brazilian group InBev and US brewing giant Anheuser-Busch, said its global brands did well.

Among them, its iconic Budweiser beer saw volume driven by China and Brazil, while Corona gained 2.7 percent and Stella Artois rose 1.2 percent.

AB InBev made no forecast for full-year 2015 but said it expected sales by volume to improve in its US, Mexico and China markets.

For 2014, the company reported a net profit increase of 11.7 percent to $8.86 billion on sales up 5.9 percent to $47.1 billion.