The world's largest brewer Anheuser-Busch has seen its net income increase 7.8% to US$633m for the second quarter. Diluted earnings per share rose 13.6%, representing the 19th consecutive quarter of double-digit earnings per share growth.

The company's results were driven by increased sales of Bud Light and the low-carb beer Michelob Ultra, as well as price increases in the period.

Net sales, which includes excise taxes, rose to US$3.77 billion from US$3.63 billion. Gross sales, which exclude the effect of excise taxes, rose to US$4.34 billion from US$4.18 billion.

Domestic revenue per barrel grew 3.5% and 3.1% in the second quarter and first six months of 2003, respectively, compared to the same periods in 2002, reflecting the continued favourable beer industry pricing environment, the company said.

"During the first six months of this year, Anheuser-Busch has significantly increase revenue per barrel, margins, and earnings per share while also increasing market share," said Patrick Stokes, the brewer's CEO, in a statement.

The company shipped 26.8 million barrels to domestic wholesalers, up 0.7% from last year. Worldwide beer volume, which includes domestic and international volume, rose 0.3% to 28.9 million barrels.

"We are confident of achieving full year 2003 earnings per share growth in the 12 percent to 13 percent range. In addition, we remain confident in our ability to consistently achieve our double-digit earnings per share growth objective over the long-term, targeting 12 percent growth in 2004," Stokes said.

A-B also managed to gain market share in the US, where it moved up to 50% for the first six months of 2003, versus a 48.4% market share in 2002.