Anheuser-Busch Cos. yesterday said earnings for 2003 and 2004 will be on target. In a press release, the brewer said it expects earnings growth for 2003 to be between 12% and 13%, while next year it will be 12%.

Based on 2002 earnings of US$2.20 per share, the predicted earnings for 2003 equates to between US$2.46 and US$2.49.

Following the announcement last month of the company's Q3 results, Anheuser-Busch reaffirmed its guidance which was given earlier this year.

Despite problems in the industry volume environment this year, due to unfavourable weather and other short-term factors, the brewer said in a press release that its market share, revenue per barrel and earnings performances have been "excellent. With more normal weather and improving economic conditions, industry volume growth should return to more normal levels."

The company also said that it recently achieved a 50% market share in the US for the first time.

August A. Busch, IV, speaking at the Morgan Stanley Global Consumer Conference in New York on Wednesday via a webcast, said, "we have gained 1.2 share points year-to-date, reaching 50% market share for the first time in our company's history."

The gain was attributed to the growth in sales of its premium brands, such as Michelob Ultra, as well as successful brand marketing and support programs for it and its other brands.

Anheuser-Busch has captured 89% of the growth in premium brands sales for the industry, so far this year, said Busch.