LONDON: A 20% increase in African sales lifted SABMiller's earnings in the last financial year, according to the company's latest results.

The brewer's net profits hit $2.4bn (€1.7bn, £1.5bn) for 2010/11, 26% higher than the previous year. Globally, sales rose 7%.

In Africa, whose regional economy was relatively resistant to the global financial crisis and economic downturn, SABMiller was able to grow both volumes and prices.

Asia and Latin America also had a strong showing, with sales up 16% and 7% respectively.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Graham Mackay, SABMiller's ceo, said it was "as if the global financial crisis had never happened" in Africa and Asia.

But SABMiller's European sales fell 3% while North American sales were flat, suggesting that consumers in these regions are still keeping a tight rein on discretionary spending in the wake of the recession.

For the future, SABMiller plans to consider prices "selectively". This strategy will depend on the local competitive context, and the company's intention to achieve "growth through affordability" in some markets.

SABMiller owns a wide range of alcoholic drinks brands, including its four "global beers", Pilsner Urquell, Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Miller Genuine Draft and Grolsch.

According to data from Euromonitor, 27% of SABMiller's 2010 sales were in Latin America, while 22% were in Europe and 19% in North America.

The firm is the world's second largest brewer, with an estimated 9.5% volume share for 2010. Anheuser-Busch InBev, the market leader, had a share of 18.6%.

Also commenting on the results, Meyer Kahn, chairman of SABMiller, said: "SABMiller's financial performance for the year was very strong, benefiting from our sustained focus on our strategic priorities right across the business."

Data sourced from SABMiller/Euromonitor/Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff