US brewer The Boston Beer Company, has reported third quarter net sales of US$56.6m, a 15.2% increase from the 3rd quarter in 2001. Net revenue per barrel increased by 3.2% during the quarter, due to product mix changes and normal price increases.

Sales volume for the period was 335,780 barrels, an 11.6% increase from prior year.

However net income for the period fell to $362,000 compared to $2.8m for the same period last year. Gross margins as a percent of net sales were 58.3% as compared to 58.5% in the prior year third quarter.

Revenue increases were offset by higher cost of goods sold associated with changes in product mix and increases in materials cost. Significant changes in operating expenses included increased advertising, selling and promotion expenses, primarily due to the introduction of Sam Adams Light.

"Sam Adams Light is continuing to drive our top line growth resulting in our third quarter of double digit growth," reported Jim Koch, chairman of The Boston Beer Company. "We are seeing incremental volume from Light introduction ranging from 15% to 35% in early markets, and although we are experiencing low single digit percentage cannibalisation in some markets, we feel it would not be unreasonable to expect continued double digit growth through the first half of 2003."

Martin Roper, president and CEO of The Boston Beer Company, said of the status of the Sam Adams Light rollout: "At the end of September, we have introduced the brand into markets representing over 85% of our total company volume, and expect to enter the remaining markets by the end of the year.

"Roper also commented, "Pricing continues to be rational and we may look at a small increase next year in certain markets. Costs of goods are expected to rise in the low single digit percentage range, which will offset some of the increased revenue per unit. Given these facts and our volume trends, we now expect that we will be to achieve double-digit earnings per share growth in 2003 over 2001 (our pre-Light launch level), while still investing adequately in our brands."

However the company warned that actual volume results and operating results could differ materially from management's projections, depending primarily on the results of the continued launch of Sam Adams Light.