Shares in brewer Heineken have hit a four year high after positive first quarter sales figures (Reuters)

Heineken NV shares toucehd a four-year high Wednesday after it reported better than expected sales growth, as the world's third largest brewer watched beer-guzzling grow in all regions of the world apart from western Europe where sales growth declined.

Africa, the Middle East, central and eastern Europe, the Americas, and Asia Pacific all saw increasing sales growth for Heineken's beer, as the company consolidates more acquisitions into its group.

The Dutch brewer's shares in Amsterdam peaked in the morning to €44.29 a share, their highest since June 2008.

Group sales volume on an organic basis, which excludes the effect of foreign currency translational effects, consolidation changes, and exceptional items among other things, grew 4.7 percent.

This pushed up revenue by 6.8 percent for the first three months of the year, to €3.83bn.

Net profit hit €175m, boosted by a €20m revaluation gain after Heineken increased its stake in Haitian brewery Brasserie Nationale d'Haiti, up on 2011's first quarter figure of €151m.

"The impact of higher revenue and the realisation of cost savings were partly offset by increased fixed costs in certain higher inflationary markets, business capability building investments and increased input costs," said Heineken's statement.

Total sales volume growth for the first quarter in western Europe fell by 2.3 percent year-on-year.

"Volume in the key markets of UK, France, Spain and Italy all grew moderately. Lower organic group beer volume for the region mainly reflects the voluntary withdrawal of a product in the high-promotion discounter channel in Finland," said Heineken.

"Excluding Finland, regional group beer volume on an organic basis would have been in line with the prior year.

"Reduced consumer spending in on-premise channels contributed to volume declines in Portugal, Ireland and the Netherlands."

Central and eastern Europe saw sales growth of 6.3 percent, the Americas grew by 5.2 percent, and Asia Pacific by 7.5 percent.

However the biggest growth came in the African region, which saw an 8.3 percent growth in beer sales volume year-on-year.

Heineken's recent acquisition of several new brewers, including Nigeria's Sona group and Ethiopia's Harar and Bedele breweries, helped boost sales, it said.