Anheuser-Busch Profit Falls but Beats Forecasts

Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. (BUD), the largest U.S. brewer, said Wednesday quarterly profit fell as the volume of beer sold in the United States dropped.

But the earnings, which also were weighed down by rising commodity costs and increased marketing spending, beat Wall Street expectations and the company's shares rose 1.3 percent.

The company reported first-quarter earnings of $513 million, or 65 cents a share, down from $550 million, or 67 cents a share, a year before.

Analysts, on average, were expecting eaper share of 63 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company said gross sales, which exclude the effect of excise taxes, rose to $4.09 billion from $4.00 billion. Net sales rose to $3.56 billion from $3.48 billion.

Anheuser-Busch's total volume rose to 33.1 million barrels from 31.4 million. But the volume of beer sold in the United States, the company's biggest market, fell 2.8 percent to 24.4 million barrels.

The company also affirmed its earnings per share growth forecast in the low single digit percent range for the full year. The outlook, which the company had cut twice earlier this year, is below Anheuser-Busch's long-term goal of earnings per share growth in the double digit range.

Shares of Anheuser-Busch rose 60 cents to $47.15 on the New York Stock Exchange (search).