ABInBev US Sales are Down in 1st Qtr.

Slight drop seen in domestic market

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, said Wednesday its first-quarter profit fell 34 percent to $475 million as global beer sales remained stagnant.

AB InBev sold 0.8 percent more beer and soft drinks in the first quarter and said an expected improvement in profitability would be delayed until the second half because of lower-than-expected sales and higher marketing expenses.

In the United States, beer volume sales were down 6.8 percent — even though revenues grew 1.6 percent.

The brewer depends on emerging economies for about half of its revenue and most of its volume sales. It is the market leader in the U.S. and in Brazil. Brazil was the brewer’s best-performing market in the first quarter, with sales of Antarctica, Brahma and other popular local brews growing 15.9 percent by volume.

AB InBev is also still recovering from spending $52 billion in July 2008 to buy Anheuser-Busch, a move that formed the new company. The deal came just weeks before the financial crisis sent debt costs soaring. Since then the company has been selling off assets to raise money.

The company said it has now managed to extend some $20 billion in outstanding debt and this month obtained $17.2 billion in long-term bank financing to fully refinance the takeover debt.