Kirin Holdings has reported net losses of JPY6bn (US$63m) for the first quarter of 2009, but the group maintained its full-year guidance after rises in sales and operating profits.

Kirin said late last week that net losses for the first three months of 2009 deepened to JPY6.1bn, compared to losses of JPY675m for the same period last year.

The brewer, which also has food and pharmaceutical businesses, blamed the fall on a "rapidly deteriorating economy" in its native Japan and exchange rate losses on income from foreign subsidiaries.

Net sales rose by 13.8%, however, to reach JPY487bn, with operating profits up 2.5% to JPY9.4bn, said Kirin.

The group said that domestic beer sales by volume exceeded expectations and grew ahead of the industry average for the first quarter. Among the firm's foreign subsidiaries, a strong performance by Australian brewer Lion Nathan helped to boost sales for Kirin's beer business.

The firm maintained sales and profits guidance for its 2009 full-year. Net profits, it reiterated, are expected to fall by nearly 29% to JPY57m, with sales expected to dip by 0.2% to JPY2.3bn.  

It has been a busy year-to-date for Kirin in mergers and acquisitions. In February, the firm announced its intention to buy up 43% of San Miguel Brewery from San Miguel Corp. It has since announced that it will raise this to 48% by acquiring all public shares in the San Miguel brewery not owned by San Miguel Corp.

In April, Kirin and Diageo announced that they would form a joint venture in Japan and, later the same month, Kirin said that it has agreed to buy up all outstanding shares that it does not already own in Lion Nathan.