The world's second largest brewer SABMiller has said that the company was continuing to deliver growth, in a "very satisfactory performance in the light of the significant depreciation of some Southern African currencies in 2001."

The news drove SABMiller's shares up 2.5% at 467.5 pence this morning.

Group CEO Graham Mackay said he was particularly pleased with Europe's results. "Our Central and Eastern European businesses produced good volume growth, despite the impact of flooding in the Czech Republic. Both Poland and the Czech Republic have performed particularly well. In Russia, volumes are ahead of last year but behind expectations," he said.

And in Africa lager beer volumes grew in all the company's major markets, with carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) volumes are well ahead of the prior year, led by strong performances in Angola and Zambia. In China, profitability was improving following acquisitions in 2001 and the ongoing reorganisation of that business into three sub-regions.

However, not all analysts were impressed.  "There's no great news here. It looks pretty flat," said James Williamson of SG Securities in London.

And Stuart Price of WestLB Panmure said: "South Africa, Central America and Miller are somewhat disappointing. South African beer volumes are down 0.7% - we are expecting 1% growth for 2003. Central America has not recovered from the price war between Pepsi and Coke in the region and soft drink volumes have also suffered from 'lacklustre economic performance', and profitability is behind expectation. In the US, Miller's integration is on track, but the company seems dependent on pricing and contract volumes to drive top-line growth. The latter is low margin."

Mackay said: "In the United States, Miller Brewing Company's own lager volumes for the two months since acquisition have been in line with our expectations but below last year. This has been offset by the continuing improvement in pricing trends and higher contract brewing volumes. The integration of the business into the wider group is proceeding across a broad front."