Quilmes Industrial (Quinsa) S.A. has announced its results for the three months to 31 March 2004. Net sales for the company leapt by 40% to US$208.3m from $148m for the corresponding quarter last year, while gross profit soared by 79.1%, hitting $120.7m compared to $67.4m year-on-year.

EBITDA increased by 98% to $91.5m, while EBITDA margin improved more than 12 percentage points to 43.9%.

While net debt decreased by $75.6m to $127.7m from March 2003, net profit after tax improved to $27.6m, or US$0.222 per share, compared to $1m, or $0.008 per share for the first quarter of 2003.

The company credited the rise in gross profit to higher volume sales and price increases, particularly in Argentina and Paraguay. The cost of raw materials per hectolitre was virtually unchanged compared to last year, despite increases in commodity prices, the company added.

Beer volume sales increased to 4.4m hectolitres from 3.86m hectolitres a year earlier, due to both continued volume growth in Argentina and Bolivia, and strong recoveries in Paraguay and Uruguay. Volumes for soft drinks increased by approximately 6% compared to a year earlier, fuelled by good performances in both Argentina and Uruguay.

The results for Q1 consolidate the operations of AmBev's Southern Cone assets for the months of February and March, following the closing of the strategic alliance between AmBev and Quinsa on 31 January 2003.

Quinsa controls 87.6% of Quilmes International (Bermuda) (QIB). The remaining stake is held by Beverage Associates Corp. and AmBev. Through QIB, Quinsa controls beverage and malting businesses in five Latin American countries. Through its strategic alliance with AmBev, it has entered into license and distribution agreements to produce and sell the AmBev brands in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The company also has bottling and franchise agreements with PepsiCo, accounting for 100% of PepsiCo beverage sales in Uruguay and more than 80% of PepsiCo beverage sales in Argentina.