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After big loss, Craft Brewers posts modest profit

Craft Brewers Alliance Inc. turned a modest 2009 profit as shipments to beverage giant Anheuser-Busch In Bev soared by nearly 75 percent.

In its first full year of operations, the Portland-based brewery (NASDAQ: HOOK) reported a profit of $887,000, or 5 cents per share, on $131.7 million in sales. That compares to a $33.3 million loss, or a loss of $2.63 per share, on $86.7 million in sales in 2008, the year the company formed from the merger of Redhook Ale Brewery Inc. and Widmer Brothers Brewing Co.

The Portland-based brewer released its 2009 annual report Monday. It's scheduled to hold its quarterly earnings call on Wednesday.

According to the annual report, sales and profits were chiefly driven by a 74.4 percent increase in shipments to Anheuser-Busch, as anticipated by the 2008 merger that created the company. Anheuser-Busch is its primary distributor and reaches 540 independent wholesale distributors nationwide.

Craft Brewers shipped 573,200 barrels to its partner in 2009, which represents 61 percent of its total production capacity fo 939,000 barrels.

Craft operates three primary production brewing facilities with restaurants in Portland, Woodinville, Wash. and Portsmouth, N.H. It sells under the Widmer and Redhook brands as well as its specialty Kona brand. The company employs approximately 400.

Its stock closed at $2.54, up nearly 3 percent for the day. Its 52-week range is 90 cents to $4.20.