SABMiller has posted a lift in full-year earnings despite a "difficult year" in North America.

The global brewer said today (17 May) that pre-tax profit for the 12 months to the end of March increased 14% on a year earlier to US$2.8bn. Sales for the period were up by 22%, reaching $18.6bn, as volumes rose 23% to 216m hectolitres.

EBITA in Latin America soared by 110% to $915m, thanks to the integration of Bavaria, the Latin American brewer SABMiller bought in October 2005. In Europe, meanwhile,  delivered "excellent results", the company said, with EBITA rising 29% to $733m on a 25% climb in revenue to $4.08bn. The company credited a mild winter, generally buoyant economies and the football World Cup.

In Africa and Asia, EBITA was up 11% to $467m on a revenue increase of 20% to $2.67bn. South Africa saw EBITA raise only slightly by 4% to $1.1bn on a flat sales, up only 2% to $4.27bn.

EBITA in North America, however, fell 17% to $376m as higher commodity costs, declining Miller Lite volume and price competition in the economy segment hit the bottom line. The company said it plans to strengthen its 'worthmore' portfolio by expanding distribution of Sparks, Leinenkugel's and Peroni and adding Miller Chill, a new light lager, and various South American brands.

"These results demonstrate that the momentum of recent years is continuing across our businesses," said company chairman Meyer Kahn. "I am particularly pleased by the successful implementation of the South America strategy that is delivering volume and revenue growth ahead of expectations following a substantial integration project.

"Once again we have shown the strength and depth of our brand portfolios and our ability to grow robust businesses."