Anheuser-Busch, Inc., the US beer subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch Cos, has said it increased US beer shipments to wholesalers to 103m barrels in 2004 - up 400,000 barrels or 0.4% over 2003.

President, August A. Busch IV said: "Anheuser-Busch was able to increase shipments in 2004 due to the continued growth of brands like Michelob ULTRA and Bud Light and due to the efforts of our employees and wholesaler partners across the country".

However, fourth-quarter beer shipments by Anheuser-Busch to wholesalers decreased 1.5%. Wholesaler sales-to-retailers were down 0.3% for the full year and decreased 3.2% in the fourth quarter.

Anheuser-Busch Cos., Inc. will announce worldwide beer volume and consolidated earnings results for the fourth quarter and full year 2004 on Feb. 2, 2005.

The company said it continues to expect 10% to 11% earnings per share growth for 2004, excluding one-time items. One-time items include the first-quarter 2004 commodity hedge gain, the fourth-quarter 2004 gain on sale of the CCU investment and a fourth-quarter 2004 deferred income tax benefit from Modelo due to a reduction in Mexican corporate income tax rates.

"We are confident that with our strong leadership position in the US beer market, combined with effective marketing, solid sales execution and a favourable pricing environment, Anheuser-Busch is well positioned for continued growth in volume and profits in 2005 and beyond," concluded Busch.