(Adds details on share price, EBITDA, guidance, analysts' notes)
SAO PAULO, March 1 (Reuters) - Shares in AmBev SA , the Latin American unit of beverage company Anheuser Busch InBev NV, rose more than 2 percent on Thursday after posting solid fourth quarter profit and margin growth, even as the figures missed many analysts' estimates.
In a securities filing, the Brazilian brewer posted fourth quarter net revenue adjusted for non-recurring items of 4.51 billion reais ($1.39 billion). While that was below a Reuters consensus estimate of 4.86 billion reais, it was still up 23.2 percent from the same period last year, reflecting a rebound in the Brazilian beverage market that appears to be gaining steam.
The company also posted guidance that was sanguine about 2018, while noting that the first quarter could be challenging for various reasons, such as the timing of Brazil's Carnaval holiday.
"While AmBev fell short of our expectations, we believe investors will be encouraged by the notable (year on year) and (quarter on quarter) improvements and positive outlook," analysts at UBS wrote in a note to clients.
Shares in AmBev were trading up 2.41 percent at 22.53 reais in morning trade, after shooting up more than 3 percent after opening.
Holding profits back was a significant increase in general and administrative expenses, which the company partially attributed to aggressive marketing. Sales, general and administrative expenses grew 15.7 percent in the quarter from the year before.
Still, margins were solid, with the company posting fourth quarter adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of 7.3 billion reais, roughly in line with a Reuters consensus estimate of 7.25 billion reais.
The company said it had a positive perspective for 2018 as a whole, due to falling unemployment and growing disposable income in Brazil, its largest market.
AmBev will continue to emphasize its premium beers segment, reflecting the evolving tastes of Brazilians, while also investing heavily in marketing.
($1 = 3.25 reais)
(Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Jason Neely and Will Dunham)