Anheuser-Busch has posted a steady start to its year so far.

The US-based brewer yesterday (25 April) reported a 3.7% year-on-year lift in Q1 net income, which hit US$518m. Net sales for the three-month period edged up 2.7%, reaching $3.8bn.

In volume terms, US beer shipments were flat, up 0.5% to 25.7m barrels, although the international division delivered an 8.7% lift to 5.2m barrels, thanks in part to strong sales in China and Canada. Equity partner brands volume, representing the company's share of its equity partners' volume reported on a one-month lag, increased 4.1% for the quarter due to increased volume for Grupo Modelo and Tsingtao.

US market share, however, slid in the three-month period, down to 50.2% from 50.9% a year earlier.

"We are encouraged by our progress on key initiatives during the first quarter," said August A. Busch IV, A-B's president and CEO. "We successfully implemented domestic beer price increases and discount reductions earlier this year and the pricing environment continues to be favourable. Our cost reduction efforts have lessened the impact of ongoing cost pressures and the gross profit margin for our company improved during the quarter."

The brewer noted that its agreement to handle imports of selected InBev beer brands, announced in February, is "ahead of schedule".

The brewer also yesterday confirmed that it will pay shareholders a dividend of $0.295 on its common stock. The payment will be made on 11 June to shareholders of record on 9 May.