Belgian-based brewing giant InBev has posted a 34% rise in net profit to EUR479m(US$612m) for the third quarter, on the back of strong sales growth in Latin America and Eastern Europe.

Normalised earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose by 19% to EUR1.209bn for the three-month period, while normalised earnings per share for the quarter were EUR0.82, against EUR0.53 in the corresponding quarter last year.

Normalised EBITDA margin grew by 19.0%, leading to an EBITDA margin of 34.1% in the third quarter of 2006, against 30.2% in the corresponding period last year.

Total revenues rose by 7.1% to EUR3.54bn, in line with market forecasts, while beer volumes grew by 4.6% to 59m hectolitres. Non-beer volumes rose by 11% to 8.4m hectolitres.

On a region-by-region basis, Central & Eastern Europe saw organic growth of 14.8% in beer volumes. Particularly strong volume increases were recorded in Russia (+16.2%) and Ukraine (+22.5%), and in Central Europe growth was recorded in nearly all markets, InBev said.

Latin America showed 4.8% organic volume growth. In particular, the southern cone countries - Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay - delivered strong volume growth, InBev said, with volumes up by 12.3%. But volumes were down by 2.8% in northern Latin America and Central America, with the fall being attributed to a tough trading environment.

North American volumes were 2.4% down for the quarter, while volumes in Western Europe also fell by 2.5%. The company said this confirmed the need to continue reducing costs to be able to invest for future growth.

"The 3Q06 saw organic EBITDA margin expansion in all zones compared to 3Q06," said InBev's CEO Carlos Brito. "With the exception of Asia Pacific, all zones expanded revenue per (hectolitre) ahead of volume. Latin America and Central & Eastern Europe had very good volume performances, more than offsetting the weaker performances of the other zones. We will continue to implement our best practices in the commercial and cost management areas, with a clear focus to overcome the top-line challenges in Western Europe."