San Miguel Brewery, the Philippines-based brewer, has reported an 8% rise in net profit for the first quarter of 2009.

Net profit after tax reached PHP2.66bn (US$55.4m) for the three months ended 31 March, San Miguel Brewery (SMB) said in a trading update today (8 April).

First quarter net sales hit PHP12.43bn, "marginally higher" than for the same period of 2008, said SMB, which is a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation.

"Earnings growth was driven by continued cost management efforts and stable raw material prices," it said.

"Despite weak economic conditions, operating income amounted to PHP3.80bn in the first quarter, a slight increase from the first quarter of last year," said SMB, adding that it would pay a quarterly dividend of PHP0.185 per share.

SMB recently completed a PHP38.8bn bond offering, the largest in the firm's history, to purchase domestic beer brands and assets from parent group San Miguel Corp. 

Commenting on the deal today, SMB said: "As brand owner, SMB would be able to maximize the use of existing brands [and], at the same time, develop its own brands that would cater to varied customer needs."

Shareholder records released by SMB show that San Miguel Corp has a 94% stake in the brewer.

However, in February, Japanese brewer Kirin Holdings agreed a deal with San Miguel Corp to acquire a 43% stake in SMB for PHP59bn (US$1.2bn), as part of its strategy to expand outside of Japan's shrinking beer market. Kirin has also launched a tender offer to buy all shares in SMB not owned by San Miguel Corp, which would increase its overall stake to 49%.