Anheuser-Busch InBev booked an increase in profits in the third quarter of the year as price rises and cost cuts offset lower beer consumption.

For the three months to the end of September, profits before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose 12% on the same period of 2008, to US$3.55bn, the company reported today (12 November).

But, the brewer of Stella Artois and Budweiser reported net sales down 0.4% on an organic basis. Sales on a reported basis fell 10% to $9.76bn, against $10.89bn last year. For the first nine months of 2009, like-for-like beer sales rose 1.8%.

Group CEO Carlos Brito said: "We delivered double-digit EBITDA growth in a challenging operating environment, made significant progress on all our commitments, while increasing our sales and marketing investment.

Brito added that the company enters the fourth quarter "a much stronger company" than at the start of the year, with a "significantly improved" balance sheet.

Beer volumes fell 3% on a like-for-like basis in the third quarter, and by 1.6% in the first nine months of the year.

In October, A-Busch InBev exceeded its $7bn asset disposals target with the sale of A-B theme parks to Blackstone and the sale of brewing operations in Central and Eastern Europe to CVC Capital. 

"We anticipate fourth quarter year-over-year EBITDA growth in line with the third quarter," Brito added: "Demand trends remain soft, but we see improved volume performance in the fourth quarter 2009 compared with third quarter year-over-year results."

The company said it expects to step up its investment in sales and marketing programmes in the fourth quarter as it funds new product launches and drives brand growth.

For the full announcement, click here.

For an update, including analyst comment on the results, click here.