Brewer Anheuser-Busch ( BUD) said Wednesday that the probability of continued strong results is "very favorable," prompting the company to raise its earnings growth target for 2003.

Thanks to higher expectations for revenue per barrel, the company is now hoping for earnings growth of 12% to 13% this year. The company didn't offer any specific per-share numbers, but that range would imply a profit of $2.46 to $2.49. Additionally, the company said its objective was to achieve earnings growth of 12% in 2004, which would suggest earnings of $2.76 to $2.79.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call are looking for a profit of $2.48 this year and $2.74 in 2004.

In a press release, Anheuser-Busch said "industry fundamentals remain very attractive, and our domestic beer company has roughly a 50% market share and continues to enhance its substantial competitive advantages." The company also said pricing in the U.S. beer market is still "very favorable."

Shares of Anheuser-Busch were rising 35 cents to $51.20. Elsewhere in the sector, Coors ( RKY) was losing 26 cents to $52.93, and Boston Beer ( SAM) was off 4 cents at $13.30.