The world's leading brewer Anheuser-Busch said yesterday that it is still expecting to reach 2003 earnings per share to be about 12% to 13% higher than a year ago, or $2.46 to $2.49 a share based on 2002 earnings of $2.20 a share.

For 2004, Anheuser-Busch continues to expect earnings per share to grow about 12%.

The company also said that Anheuser-Busch Inc, the US beer subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch Companies, achieved record US beer sales volume in 2003.

President August A. Busch IV said: "We are pleased to report that our domestic beer shipments to wholesalers grew to an all-time high of 102.6 million barrels in 2003 - increasing 800 thousand barrels or 0.8% over 2002.

"This record achievement, led by the success of the new Michelob ULTRA low carbohydrate brand and increased Bud Light sales volume, reflects the hard work and dedication by all of our employees and wholesaler partners across the country."

Wholesaler sales-to-retailers grew 0.9% for the full year. Sales-to-retailers accelerated in the second half of the year, increasing 1.3% in the third quarter and 1.7% in the fourth quarter. Fourth quarter beer shipments by Anheuser-Busch to wholesalers grew 0.5%.