The Philippines spirits group, Ginebra San Miguel Inc., formerly known as La Tondena Distillers Inc., has posted net profit for the first quarter of 2003 of PHP468m, up 14% from PHP411m in the corresponding period last year.

The company said the improvement was achieved on the back of stronger sales which had resulted from aggressive marketing.

Part of the San Miguel conglomerate, Ginebra said sales in the first quarter rose by 21% to PHP3.12 billion from PHP2.58 billion in the first quarter of 2002. Operating income in the first quarter rose by 5.8% to PHP725m.

"Targets we have set for 2003 are, as in the past, ambitious, but gauging from this year's first quarter results, we are confident that these targets are well within reach," said Ginebra's chairman and CEO, Eduardo Cojuangco.