Anheuser-Busch CFO Randy Baker has said that the US brewing giant should see volumes continuing to rise after enjoying an increase in first-quarter sales.

"Our A-B domestic volume is off to a good start, and we continue to expect growth versus 2005," Randy Baker, chief financial officer, said during a conference call yesterday (26 April).

The Budweiser brewer sold 26.5m barrels in the US during the first three months of the year, a rise of 4.6%. Net sales rose 5.4% to US$3.75bn but net income was flat at US$499m.

"Coming off a difficult year in 2005, Anheuser-Busch achieved encouraging first quarter 2006 results," said Patrick Stokes, president and CEO. "Through a number of sales initiatives we have restored our domestic beer volume growth momentum, and we successfully implemented a moderate price increase early this year.

"The cost pressures we experienced last year continue, but at a lesser rate, and we have implemented a number of initiatives to reduce costs and enhance productivity."

International volumes rose 9.4%, driven by increased sales in China, where A-B owns a 27% stake in the country's leading brewer, Tsingtao.

Meanwhile, A-B announced a regular quarterly dividend of US$0.27 on shares of the company's outstanding common stock, payable on 9 June, to shareholders of record on 9 May.