Anheuser-Busch has posted a 0.2% increase in consolidated net sales for the second quarter of 2005 from US$4.010bn to US$4.018bn. Diluted earnings per share, excluding two one-time income tax gains, fell by 8.4%, the brewer said yesterday (27 July).

Net sales for the first six months rose by 1.3% while earnings per share (excluding one- time gains in both 2005 and 2004) fell by 6.7%.

"Anheuser-Busch had a challenging first six months in its domestic beer business," said Patrick Stokes, president and chief executive officer of the company. "Both the company and the domestic beer industry experienced volume declines and higher cost pressures."

Stokes added that the company had implemented a number of initiatives to enhance beer volume and market share growth, including introduction of new products and packaging, increased investments in domestic marketing, stepped-up on-premise sales activities and tactical price promotions.

"We are encouraged by our sales improvement in June," Stokes said. "During the second quarter, wholesaler inventories were reduced significantly and are now below last year. Although we are confident the company will restore its sales momentum and return to solid earnings growth in the future, we are currently forecasting 2005 earnings per share to be below 2004 results, excluding the one-time gains."

Group total beer volumes, including equity partner brands, were up by 9.2% at 38m barrels for the quarter and up by 7.5% for the first six months at 71.2m. Domestic shipments fell by 3.7% for the quarter to 26.3m barrels and were down 3.2% at 50.8m barrels for first six months. However, international sales of A-B brands rose by 115.6% for the quarter to 4.9m barrels and were up by 122.5% at 9.3m barrels for the first half.