MillerCoors, the US-based brewer jointly owned by SABMiller and Molson Coors, has reported a 15% rise in third quarter net income.

Net earnings rose to US$168m for the three months ended 30 September, SABMiller and Molson Coors announced today (5 November). Net sales rose by 2% to $1.9bn, as price increases helped to offset a tougher market for volume growth.

Volume sales to retailers crept up by 0.7% during the quarter, while sales to wholesalers dipped 0.5%, the brewers said.

This week is expected to provide a health check for the US beer market, with Anheuser-Busch due to report its third quarter results tomorrow.

Import and craft beers led the MillerCoors performance, notably Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Blue Moon, which recorded double-digit growth. Coors Light also performed well, increasing sales to retailers by 6.8%.

Efforts to reduce costs formed a major part of the results statement.

"MillerCoors is aggressively working to deliver against its stated goal of achieving $500m of cost synergies in the first three years of combined operations commencing 1 July, 2008," the brewers said.

They added that MillerCoors is expected to achieve $50m in savings by 30 June 2009, divided approximately evenly between the second half of this year and the first half of next.

MillerCoors recorded a $22.6m one-off charge in the third quarter, related to reorganisation. The group is working to "optimise" operations and distribution at its eight major breweries, said SAB and Molson.