The world's number one beer maker Anheuser-Busch has reiterated its confidence in meeting its financial forecasts for the full year. The company said it was having an "excellent" year and expected strong earnings growth to continue.

The company is forecasting growth in earnings per share of 14% in 2002 and 12% in 2003 as well as continued double-digit earnings growth in the long term.

However, in a presentation to analysts and investors, chief financial officer W. Randolph Baker said sales to retailers are down slightly so far this quarter, partly due to unfavorable US weather, such as heavy rain in Texas, and to the timing of its promotions.

Despite this though he was still confident in meeting fourth-quarter earnings targets.

Anheuser-Busch said the industry volume is projected to increase 1% to 1.5% annually throughout the decade, as the age group of 21- to 27-year-olds grows.

The international business was also contributing "significantly" Baker said. "Anheuser-Busch's international beer segment has contributed 20% or more to the company's earnings growth in the past five years, and is projected to do so again this year," he said.