The Brazilian-based brewer and drinks group, AmBev, reported fourth-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of R$1.1 billion, up 44% from R$761.5m in the corresponding quarter in the previous fiscal year.

AmBev's EBITDA was ahead of analysts' forecasts for around R$1 billion but the company's fourth-quarter net profit, which rose sharply from R$178.7m to R$431.4m, was below average analysts' forecasts for around R$653m.

While sales showed signs of recovery in the final quarter of 2002, the company said volumes in Brazil fell by 1.7% in 2002, while soft drink volumes fell by 1.1%. Brazilian beer sales volumes rose by 4.6% in the fourth quarter.