Asahi Breweries has posted a slight lift in full-year net profit, on the back of flat sales.

The Japanese company, which last month confirmed its acquisition of Anheuser-Busch InBev's 20% stake in China's Tsingtao Brewery, said today (5 February) that group net profit for the 12 months to the end of December inched up by 0.5% on the corresponding period a year earlier, hitting JPY45.01bn (US$501.6m). Sales, meanwhile, were flat at JPY1.46 trillion in the year.

Operating profit improved by 8.7%, meanwhile, totalling JPY94.52bn against JPY86.96bn in 2007.

Asahi credited the profit rise to reducing promotional costs. Greater control over its advertising spend saw Asahi counter rising raw material and production costs, the company said.

Looking forward, Asahi said it expects net profit in 2009 to reach JPY50bn, with sales rising slightly in the year, to JPY1.49 trillion. Last month, Asahi predicted total volume sales of 183m cases in 2009, up by 0.8% on last year.

Asahi has been in acquisitive mood of late. As well as the stake in Tsingtao, the company lined up the purchase of Schweppes Australia from Cadbury's in December. The transaction, expected to cost Asahi JPY73.5bn (US$809.2m), should complete in the first half of this year.