Royal Unibrew, the Danish brewer, reported an improvement in earnings for the first nine months of the year, despite a fall in sales.

Profits before tax for the nine months to 30 September amounted to DKK126m (US$25.4m) compared to DKK22m last year, Unibrew said late last week.

Operating profits (EBIT before special items) reached DKK235m from DKK145m in the prior year.

Net sales, however, declined by 8% from last year due to the global recession and the company's decision to terminate "unprofitable supply agreements".

"Our performance for the nine months was not only better than last year, but also better than expected," Henrik Brandt, CEO, said.

"This confirms that our organisation is capable of taking the necessary measures and documents that Royal Unibrew Group is sound and capable of generating strong cash flow as well as reasonable results."

Brandt added that the "significant performance improvement" was due to the implementation of a number of activities to strengthen Royal Unibrew's earnings and cash flow initiated at the beginning of the year as well as to increasing net selling prices and a changed sales mix.

Royal Unibrew upgraded its full-year profit expectations for 2009 to DKK210m - DKK235m, compared to the expectation of DKK170m - DKK210m announced in the company's H1 report.

Also late last week, Unibrew announced that it has appointed a new chief financial officer.