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Anheuser-Busch maintains earnings forecast.

Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. has announced that it stands by its forecasts, and stated to the media that it is having an "excellent" year and that outlook for a continuation of strong earnings growth is "very favorable."

In a statement, Anheuser-Busch said it still expects 14 percent earnings per share growth in 2002 and 12 percent growth in 2003. Anheuser had based positive forecasts on a combination of demographics, price increases and international market growth.

"The company's consistent performance continues to be driven by favorable U.S. beer industry fundamentals for both volume and pricing, and the company's substantial competitive advantages," Chief Financial Officer W. Randolph Baker said in a statement.

According to Anheuser-Busch, the domestic beer industry's volume increased an estimated 1.4 percent through the first nine months of 2002 and the company's volume growth outperforms the industry.

Baker said beer volume can increase along with the growth of the 21-year old to 27-year old segment as beer volume is driven more by demographics than the economy.

While that age group represents about 13 percent of the U.S. population, it makes up more than 27 percent of beer consumption, Baker said.

The company said industry volume is projected to increase 1 percent to 1.5 percent annually throughout the decade.

Consumers are also trading up to higher priced beers. Anheuser-Busch started to increase prices in the beginning of October in some areas, and the results of those increases "continue to be encouraging," Anheuser-Busch said. Baker said the price increases will continue early next year.

Baker also said that Anheuser-Busch's international business is contributing "significantly" to the company's growth. "Anheuser-Busch's international beer segment has contributed 20 percent or more to the company's earnings growth in the past five years, and is projected to do so again this year," he said. Anheuser has a 50 percent stake in Mexico's Grupo Modelo and boosted its stake in China's Tsingtao last month.
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 18, 2002
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