Asia-Pacific Breweries Ltd, the producer joint owned by Heineken and Fraser & Neave, said its first quarter group revenue grew 33% over the same period last year to S$431.3m, with growth across all markets, helped by an early Chinese
New Year and Tet.

Group profit before interest, taxation and exceptional items (PBIT) increased 52% to US$64.6m while attributable net profit before exceptional items rose 43% to US$28.9m.

In Singapore PBIT declined by 5% due to lower domestic sales which were offset by higher exports. But PBIT grew 69% in Malaysia as a result of higher sales and by 19% in Papua New Guinea thanks to a stronger currency.

In New Zealand PBIT grew by 33% as a result of higher sales driven by December festive promotions and increases in on-premise consumption.

Indochina saw an earlier build-up for the Tet festive season and stronger demand, before the implementation of VAT in Vietnam in January 2004, boost December sales. In Cambodia, wedding promotions lifted Tiger and Anchor volumes. PBIT for the region improved 79% over last year.

Total China sales volume increased by 38% resulting in a reduction of losses
by 14%. In Thailand although revenue grew 9%, PBIT declined 14% due to higher marketing and overhead costs.

In a statement the company said: "The fundamentals of the Group's business remain sound. The signs of economic recovery in Singapore and the region are encouraging at this point in time. With the local production of Heineken Lager in China and the recently announced acquisition of a 21% equity interest in Guangdong Brewery Holdings Limited, we remain committed to building a stronger platform for our business in that market.

"Barring an escalation of the bird flu epidemic and any unforeseen circumstances, the Directors expect attributable net profit before exceptional items for the year to be higher than last year."