A rise in sales and market share for Monster Energy has driven Hansen Natural to a 44% jump in net profits for the first quarter of 2009.

Net sales rose by 15% to US$244m for the first three months of 2009, compared to $212m during the same period of last year, California-based Hansen Natural said yesterday (7 May).

Net profits increased to $41.6m from $28.8m, while operating profits rose by nearly 54% to $65.8m, said the group, which reported a net loss for its full-year in 2008.

Hansen attributed the majority of the sales rise to a continuing strong performance from its Monster Energy drink, which, the group added, also grew market share during the quarter in an energy drinks category that has seen slower growth in the US recession.

The firm signalled that teething problems remain in establishing its distribution partnership for Monster with Coca-Cola Enterprises.

The deal, which became effective from the first quarter, has progressed "satisfactorily", said Hansen CEO and chairman Rodney Sacks.

Sacks said that the transition to CCE in Canada has been challenging, but "we are optimistic that we will start to see improved results in this market during the current quarter".

In CCE's Western Europe markets, Sacks said: "Distribution performance in the UK in the first quarter was disappointing, although there are signs of improvement with CCE in that country."

As well as CCE, Hansen has also entered distribution agreements for Monster with Schweppes Australia, Neill Cropper & Co for New Zealand, Luigi Biscaldi Import-Export for Italy and Osborne for Spain.