United Breweries looks likely to have taken share off rivals on the Indian beer market after reporting strong rises in profits and sales for its fiscal third quarter.

Net sales for the three months to the end of December reached INR4.46bn (US$96.5m), up 18% on the INR3.77bn from the same period a year ago, United Breweries said late last week.

Profits for the quarter leapt to INR212.6m, from INR14.7m a year earlier.

Net profits for the first nine months of the year reached INR684m, said the Kingfisher brewer. The total is above the INR625m reported for the group's most recent full fiscal year and more than double the INR292m in earnings for the first nine months of that year.

Given the difficulties experienced by United Breweries' main rival, SABMiller, it looks likely that the Indian brewer has gained market share. It has an estimated near-50% share of the market, with SABMiller on 35%.

Net sales for the first nine months of the year rose to INR14.2bn, from INR12.2bn last year, said the group, which is the brewing arm of billionaire Vijay Mallya's UB Group.

SABMiller last week reported a 7% slip in volume sales in India for its own third quarter, also to the end of December. The slip was, however, a marked improvement on the group's 21% fall in volume sales in the six months to the end of September.

In December, United Breweries agreed to hand a 37.5% stake in its business to Heineken.