AB InBev, the world's biggest brewer, reported on Wednesday solid fourth-quarter and 2013 results but highlighted a difficult economic environment as sales by volume fell in several key markets.
The company said it made a net profit of $2.37 billion in the last three months of 2013, up by a third from the $1.77 billion a year earlier, and easily beating analyst forecasts compiled by Dow Jones Newswires for $1.85 billion.
For full-year 2013, net profit rose 10.2 percent to $7.93 billion, with sales increasing 3.3 percent to $43.19 billion.
AB InBev said its leading brands did well, citing gains for Budweiser beer in China, Brazil, Russia and Britain while Corona put in a positive performance in Mexico.
However, in volume terms, sales fell 2.0 percent for the year, the company said, reporting difficult conditions in several key markets such as North America.
Volumes dropped 4.3 percent in Brazil, host of the soccer World Cup later this year, as the economy slowed and rising food price inflation saw consumers concentrate on basics at the expense of beer.
There was a similar downturn in Western Europe but Asia performed strongly, with China registering a volume gain of 8.9 percent.
For 2014, AB InBev said it expected a recovery in volumes driven by economic recovery in the United States and the World Cup in Brazil.
Asia will continue to be a key area, with the company announcing in January it is to buy South Korea's Oriental Brewery for $5.8 billion.
AB InBev was formed in 2008 by the merger of Belgian-Brazilian group InBev and US brewing giant Anheuser-Busch.