AOIFE WHITE

BRUSSELS (AP) ¿ The world's largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, made $1.55 billion net profit in the third quarter as cost savings from last year's merger of Anheuser-Busch and InBev ran ahead of plan.

But revenue fell 10 percent as the recession led to people drinking less beer.

The maker of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck's did not give a figure for year-ago profit, saying Thursday it could not compare numbers from Anheuser Busch and InBev before they combined. In the July-September period in 2008, InBev made $690 million and AB $666.1 million.

The combined company, headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, sold 3.1 percent less beer in the three months ended Sept. 30, hit by weak worldwide markets as the economic downturn held back spending.

Revenue for the quarter was $9.76 billion, down from combined revenue from Anheuser and InBev of $10.89 billion before last November's takeover.

AB InBev's chief financial officer Felipe Dutra said he could not forecast when volumes would turn around. In real terms, the company expects demand to remain soft in the fourth quarter, predicting only an apparent improvement compared to a year ago because sales in 3Q 2008 were much stronger than 4Q 2008.

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