Mixed Bag for A-B

Sales up 4% driven by price increase; volume up a tad but sales to retail down

Increased sales from all business segments helped boost Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.’s first-quarter net sales by 6.2 percent, though net income dropped slightly as the company suffered a decrease in sales-to-retailers.

U.S. sales improved 4 percent helped by the full implementation of increased pricing on U.S. beer while international beer sales increased 20 percent.

A-B sold 25.8 million barrels in the U.S. in the first quarter, a 0.4 percent increase from 25.7 million barrels sold in the country during last year’s first quarter.

U.S. beer shipments-to-wholesalers increased 0.4 percent for the first quarter 2008, but sales-to-retailers were down 0.7 percent, and sales-to-retailers for Anheuser-Busch produced brands, excluding imports, declined 1.4 percent.

“Although U.S. beer sales-to-retailers results were below expectations, we are optimistic concerning the outlook for beer sales during the key summer selling season,” August Busch IV, president and CEO, said in a statement.