Anheuser-Busch has posted a slip in net income, despite a rise in sales for the first three months of this year.

The US-based brewer said today (23 April) that net income for the first quarter came in 1.3% down on the corresponding period a year earlier, at US$511m. Net sales, however, were up by 6.2% at $4.1bn.

Operating income was also up, by 6.2% at $763m, with earnings per share rising by 6% to $0.71.

While US beer sales rose by 4% on improved revenue per barrel and a very slight lift in sales volumes, international volume plus exports from the company's US breweries increased by 3.1%, driven primarily by sales in Canada, Mexico, Argentina and China.

"Our operations achieved solid results in the quarter, growing sales and operating income six percent over the first quarter last year," said company president and CEO August A. Busch IV. "We have successfully implemented US beer price increases and expect good revenue per barrel performance in 2008. Our cost reduction efforts are significantly mitigating the impact of industry-wide cost pressures.

"We are increasing marketing and sales support for our core beer brands, and, although US beer sales-to-retailers results were below expectations, we are optimistic concerning the outlook for beer sales during the key summer selling season."

The company's board of directors has declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.33 on shares of outstanding common stock, payable on 9 June to shareholders of record on 9 May.