The world's biggest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev on Friday posted solid results ahead of a deadline to finalise its blockbuster offer for London-based rival SABMiller.
AB InBev, the giant behind top lager brands like Budweiser and Stella Artois, said operating profit rose by 9.6 percent in the third quarter to $4.4 billion (four billion euros).
The strong performance beat analyst expectations, according to a survey by Bloomberg news service, and was driven by strong sales of its premium brands in US, Mexico, China and the UK.
"We are particularly pleased with the performance of our Global Brands which delivered double digit volume and revenue growth," the company said in a statement.
The push for the blockbuster tie-up with SABMiller is being fuelled by fears of declining beer sales in key markets as US and European drinkers abandon traditional brands for more local options.
But the company's premium brands had a bumper quarter. Sold volumes of AB InBev's three global brands grew by 11.5 percent in the quarter, with Budweiser up 11.5 percent, Corona up 11.1 percent and Stella Artois up 12.9 percent.
"You could have said cynically that they would have wanted to put in a good set of results to bolster their case to acquire SABMiller, and this is broadly in line with expectations," said Andrew Holland, an analyst at Societe Generale to Bloomberg.
Based on the solid quarter, the company raised its forecast for the whole year, saying that sales would now grow above inflation in 2015.
AB InBev this week extended its massive offer for SABMiller by a week to allow for further discussions. The results statement made no significant update on those talks.
The multinational -- based in Louvain, Belgium -- is currently rounding up financing to secure the deal, valued at about $106 billion.
AB InBev Chief Financial Officer Felipe Dutra said on a call with journalists Friday that the company was working hard to finalise the bid.