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Anheuser-Busch Earnings Rise, Meet Expectations

Anheuser-Busch said quarterly net income rose on stronger domestic beer shipments, higher prices and demand for its imports.

Fourth-quarter net income for the largest U.S. brewer was $191 million, or 25 cents a share, compared with $146 million, or 19 cents a share, a year ago.

Analysts, on average, were expecting 25 cents a share, according to Thomson Financial.

Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser and Bud Light, said net sales for the quarter were $3.42 billion, up from $3.37 billion million a year ago. Analysts on average expected quarterly sales of $3.39 billion.

Domestic beer segment sales fell 1% due to 3.6% lower beer sales volume, while reported beer volume rose 0.8% and revenue per barrel rose 2%, as Anheuser raised prices in some markets during the summer.

Last year, the company took price cuts amid sluggish growth in the U.S. beer market, forcing competitors like Miller Brewing, a unit of SABMiller, to follow suit.

Anheuser-Busch, whose Bud Light is the top-selling brand in the United States, controls about half the U.S. beer market.

But Bud Light's dominance is being challenged by imported light beers, such as Heineken Premium Light and Corona Light.

The St. Louis-based company did not provide quarterly outlook in a press release but said its long-term target is to increase profit by 7 to 10% per year.

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