InBev has reported a disappointing set of results for its third quarter.

The global brewer said today (8 November) that net profit for the three months to the end of September was up by only 5% year-on-year at EUR522m (US$) while sales lifted by 4.8%, reaching EUR3.78bn.

In volume terms, sales increased by 3.5% to 71.1m hectolitres.

While central and Eastern Europe delivered top line growth in the quarter, InBev noted that higher volumes and revenue in Asia Pacific were offset by increased investments. In Western Europe, volumes decreased and cost of sales were higher than last year.

Both Latin America North and Latin America South delivered volume growth and higher revenue per hectolitre, while tighter cost management in North America helped drive margins in what InBev described as a "challenging" environment.

"Overall, our Q307 performance was below our expectations," said company CEO Carlos Brito. "In Q3, our cost management programmes were key to offset the weaker top line results, mainly in the UK and China, and the commodity price pressure.

"We believe we have the commercial programmes in place to deliver a stronger Q4."

For the first nine months of 2007, however, InBev's net profit was up by a more impressive 17% on the corresponding period a year earlier at EUR1.28bn. Sales for the year so far were up by 7% to EUR10.55bn in value terms, and by 5.1% in volume terms at 198m hectolitres.

The brewer said it would not provide guidance on the impact of changes in commodity costs for next year, warning that price rises of barley and malt would affect cost of sales.

"This impact is likely to be partly offset by favourable results from our risk management initiatives, together with ongoing efficiency programmes being implemented throughout the company," noted InBev's CFO, Felipe Dutra.