posted a 26% jump in third-quarter earnings Wednesday, topping Wall Street's estimates.
The St. Louis beer behemoth's profit jumped to $638 million, or 82 cents a share, from $505 million, or 65 cents a share, a year earlier. The earnings per share beat analysts' mean estimate by a penny, according to Thomson First Call.
Sales rose 4.7% to $4.88 billion from $4.69 billion in the year-ago quarter. Wall Street expected sales of $4.24 billion.
Shares of the company climbed $1.08, or 2.3%, to $47.97 in afternoon trading Wednesday.
The company, whose brands includes Budweiser and Michelob, said it had accelerated growth in its domestic beer business in the quarter, with pretax income up 7%. Beer shipments to wholesalers rose 1.1%, while revenue per barrel climbed 2.8%.
Anheuser also said productivity-improvement initiatives and lesser energy cost increases mitigated cost pressures.
The company, citing shipment volume from the Beer Institute and Department of Commerce, estimated domestic market share for the first nine months of 2006 was 49%, a slight uptick from 48.9% the same time a year ago.
"We expect Anheuser-Busch's positive performance to continue through the end of the year and our earnings to continue to improve in 2007," said CEO Patrick Stokes in a statement.
Stokes is set to step down as CEO Dec. 1. August Busch IV, great-great grandson of co-founder Adolphus Busch, will assume the post.