Redhook Ale Brewery Inc. has posted a slight improvement in its Q1 sales and shipment figures. The company yesterday announced sales of US$9.39m and shipments of 50,200 barrels in the first quarter of 2004. As compared to sales of $8.67m and shipments of 47,700 barrels in the 2003 first quarter, sales and shipments in the 2004 first quarter increased by 8.3% and 5.2%, respectively.

Average revenue per barrel also improved modestly, due to strength in pricing as well as sales increases at both of the company's retail operations.

Gross profit for the company increased by $374,000 to $2.046m in the 2004 first quarter, from $1.67m in the first quarter of 2003. The 2004 first quarter gross profit margin also increased to 23.7% of net sales from 21.1% for the comparable 2003 quarter.

The company reported a net loss for the 2004 first quarter, however, of $921,000, or $0.15 loss per share, compared to a 2003 first quarter net loss of $1.194m, or $0.19 loss per share. The 2004 and 2003 first quarters' basic loss per share were computed using weighted average shares outstanding of 6.2 million and 6.3 million, respectively.

"Regarding our distribution agreement with Anheuser-Busch which is subject to early termination in 2004, we do not have anything additional to announce at this time, but we continue to believe that the relationship with Anheuser-Busch and its distributors is good," said CEO Paul Shipman.

The distribution agreement with Anheuser-Busch was executed in 1994 and has a stated term of 20 years, but is subject to one-time early termination by either Redhook or Anheuser-Busch without cause on 31 December 2004. Notice of intention to terminate the distribution agreement must be made by the party electing to do so no less than six months prior to the termination date. To date, neither the company nor Anheuser-Busch has given any indication that it intends to terminate the distribution agreement.