London/Geneva — The world’s largest brewer is ramping up spending on marketing initiatives ahead of the soccer World Cup in June, after promotions helped buoy demand in Colombia and Peru. Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (AB InBev’s) first-quarter earnings growth of 6.6% surpassed analysts’ estimates, and the company said on Wednesday that it was "confident" that growth would quicken, especially in the second half. The stock rose as much as 4.4% in early Brussels trading. Budweiser’s campaign for the World Cup, the most-watched sporting event globally, began this week. The initiative comes as AB InBev works to drive more revenue from athletic tournaments and social occasions after the past decade’s influx of smaller brands weaned drinkers off its mass-market brews. To address that challenge, the Belgium-based company is investing $2bn in promoting its brands and improving supply chains in the US The beverage company’s results were "a relief, and growth looks set to accelerate," Olivier Nicola...

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