A strong export performance has contributed to a healthy climb in Q1 sales and profit at Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo.

The company yesterday (2 May) posted a 24% increase in net sales for the first three months of 2007. Modelo saw export sales leap by 82.5% in value terms, although the figure included sales of its joint-venture in the US, Crown Imports, while in previous quarters it represented the volume sold to the previous importers. With total sales hitting MXN16.1bn (US$1.47bn), export revenues hit MXN6.9bn.

Modelo noted that inventories at wholesaler level on the eastern coast of the US had accumulated during the final quarter of last year, leading to a slip in export volumes of 3.9%.

Domestically, volumes climbed by 4.5% thanks in part to a 16.5% increase in imported brands, namely Anheuser-Busch's and Tsingtao's beer brands.

Operating income was up by 26.5% year-on-year, reaching MXN4.7bn.

Modelo produces the top-selling imported beer in the US, Corona. Anheuser-Busch owns a 50% stake in Modelo, which also produces brands including Modelo Especial and Negra Modelo.