The Belgian brewing combine, Interbrew, posted a 13% fall in net profit for 2002 which it attributed principally to the loss of contributions from Carling which it sold to the US brewer, Coors, during 2002.

Net profit from ordinary activities fell by 13% from €537m to €467m, while EBITDA fell by 9.1% from €1.53 billion to €1.39 billion.

Interbrew's EBITDA figure for 2002 came in below analysts forecasts for around €1.48 billion. Net turnover fell by 4.3% from €7.3 billion to €6.99 billion. However, the company said that on an organic basis, EBITDA rose by 9% and net turnover by 3.3%, when the impact of acquisitions, disposals, currency movements and one-off restructuring costs were stripped out. Interbrew said its current ongoing volumes showed 4.8% growth compared to 2001.

In western Europe, Interbrew said organic volume growth reached 1.9%, while the group achieved organic EBITDA growth of 6.8%. In the Americas, volume grew by 2.1% on an organic basis while organic net turnover growth was 5.1% and organic EBITDA growth reached 12.6%.

Emerging markets, which include Eastern European and Asian countries, recorded organic net turnover growth of 5.3%, with organic volume growth of 2.2%. EBITDA from emerging markets was flat in comparison with 2002, the company said.

“Our results in 2002 show the underlying strength of the business. Interbrew has a truly outstanding portfolio of brands which provide an impressive platform for growth," said John Brock, the group's new chief executive officer. "During 2003 we will continue to build on this platform but there will be changes in the way we deliver the strategy. The company will continue to focus on delivering real value to shareholders."

Brock said he believes the group needs to have a greater focus on organic volume growth, integration and synergy capture, "as they are the cornerstones of all successful consumer goods companies". Brock also said that acquisition opportunities will be closely scrutinised "to ensure that they continue to be strategic and, in a more competitive mergers and acquisitions environment, to create real value."