MillerCoors, the US joint venture between Molson Coors and SABMiller, has reported a 50% rise in net profits for the first quarter of 2009.

MillerCoors said today (5 May) that net profits rose by 50% to reach US$206m for the the first three months of this year.

With the venture yet to complete its first fiscal full-year, the figure compares to combined profits of $136.6m for Molson Coors and SABMiller in the US in the first quarter of 2008.

MillerCoors also reported net sales up 3.8% for the quarter, to $1.7bn, as higher pricing helped to offset a dip in volume sales, from 16bn to 15.7bn barrels.

"We delivered growth on five of our six focus brands, and we increased profitability through strong pricing growth and reduced price promotions," said MillerCoors' CEO Leo Kiely.

Coors Light, MGD 64, Blue Moon and Peroni Nastro Azzurro all saw growth during the quarter, helping to offset declines for Miller Lite and Pilsner Urquell.

Synergies from the joint venture have been achieved ahead of schedule, the group added. Around $50m in cost savings has been realised in the first quarter, meaning that synergies since the venture began operations, on 1 July last year, have reached $78.4m. 

The company now expects to realise $128m in annual cost savings by the end of June, compared to its original forecast of $50m.

By the end of this year, MillerCoors said it expects to achieve a total of $238m in synergies, surpassing its original forecast of $225m. It expects to reach $500m in annual cost savings within the first three years of operation.

Molson Coors also reported its first quarter earnings today, with net profits more than doubling to $76m.