Strong sales in IndoChina and Papua New Guinea have helped propel first-half earnings at Asia Pacific Breweries.

The Singapore-based brewer today (11 May) reported a 14% rise in net profit to S$80.2m (US$51.2m) for the six months to 31 March on the back of a 7% rise in revenues to S$809.6m.

APB, in which Heineken owns a 42% stake, saw sales and earnings rise in Cambodia, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea. The brewer's performances in other markets were mixed with volumes down in Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore although profits were up in the two former markets.

Volumes rose in Thailand but marketing expenses linked to last year's launch of the Cheers brand hit earnings in the market, APB said. Meanwhile, volumes in China rose by "double-digits" although increased marketing spend behind the Heineken brand ate into earnings.

Nevertheless, APB's chief executive Koh Poh Tiong praised the brewer's spread across the Asia-Pacific region. "While most markets continued to register stronger volume, Papua New Guinea and high-growth IndoChina have emerged as best performers. The robust volume growth is attributable to the improved beer market supported by these growing economies."

In the last six months, APB has signed a deal with Anheuser-Busch for the US brewer to distribute Tiger Beer in the US. The brewer has also bought a 76% stake in India's Aurangabad Breweries, its first move into the country's fast-growing beer market.

However, APB has refused to be drawn on its reported interest in the Asian assets put up for sale by Foster's Group.