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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 April, 2004, 19:34 GMT 20:34 UK
Higher beer prices boost brewer
Michelob Ultra beer
Consumers are switching to higher priced beers
Higher beer prices helped the world's biggest brewer, Anheuser-Busch, report a 13.4% jump in quarterly profits.

The US firm, whose beers include Budweiser and low-carbohydrate brand Michelob Ultra, saw its first-quarter profits come in at $549.9m (310m).

St Louis-based Anheuser-Busch said the volume of its beer sales rose 1.3% in the quarter - with volume in its key domestic market rising 0.8%.

The sale of commodity hedges added $19.5m to net earnings.

Changing tastes

Anheuser-Busch said domestic revenue per barrel increased 3.1%, due largely to price increases in October and February.

Consumers were also switching to the company's more expensive Michelob beer brands, it added.

Brewers have been struggling to adapt to the tastes of health-conscious consumers, who are drinking more low-carbohydrate wine and distilled spirits.

Anheuser-Busch's theme park business also performed well, the company said, with pre-tax profit rising 46%.

Chief executive Patrick Stokes said Anheuser-Busch remained confident of meeting its profit forecasts for the year.

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