The US beer giant Anheuser-Busch saw strong growth in its domestic and international beer businesses, boosted by new products, deliver record sales and earnings for both the fourth quarter and full year 2002.

Anheuser-Busch said it earned US$269m, or 32 cents per share in the fourth quarter, up from US$228m, or 26 cents, a year earlier. Net sales for the quarter rose 7.1% to US$3.10 billion, the company said. Sales were up 5.1% for the full year. Net Income for the year was US$1,934m compared to US$1,705m a year earlier.

Patrick Stokes, president and CEO said: "Anheuser-Busch had another outstanding year in 2002, selling more than 100 million barrels of its beer brands domestically for the first time in history and delivering 14 percent earnings per share growth."

"The company also achieved its 17th consecutive quarter of solid double-digit earnings per share growth in the fourth quarter 2002, with a 14.3% compound annual earnings per share growth since 1998. These accomplishments reflect our proven ability to capitalize on continued favourable domestic beer industry fundamentals and the strong earnings growth contribution by our international beer segment. The combination of revenue per barrel growth, volume growth, and favourable costs has significantly enhanced profit margins and return on capital employed."

The domestic beer segment performed particularly well. Net sales increased by 6.7% in the fourth quarter and 5.7% for the year while profits increased 8.7% for the fourth quarter and 9.3% for the year. Domestic beer revenue per barrel grew 4.2% and 3.5%, respectively, for the fourth quarter and full year 2002, reflecting the continued favorable pricing environment and the introductions of Michelob ULTRA and Bacardi Silver.

International results were also strong, with net income for the international beer segment up 32.5% in the quarter, driven by the performance of Grupo Modelo

"As we put another great year behind us and begin 2003, we do so from a position of strength. Anheuser-Busch has the leading brands with the highest quality in the industry; substantial market share leads over our nearest competitors; successful pricing strategies; and a strong financial position," said Stokes. "We continue to have a 12 percent earnings per share growth objective for 2003."