Mexican bread maker Grupo Bimbo has reported an 83% rise in quarterly net profit, helped by lower costs due to a new distribution system.

The company posted net profit of 347.8m pesos (US$31.4m) for the fourth quarter of 2003, compared with 189.4m in the year-ago quarter. Operating profit rose to 1.18bn pesos from 641.8m a year earlier.

Fourth-quarter sales were 12.2bn pesos, compared to 11.7bn in the year-ago quarter. The company said sales in Mexico rose 6%, helped by higher sales volumes and higher prices, while sales in Latin America increased 4%.

Bimbo’s US sales volumes were weak, but higher prices resulted in a 1.7% rise in US sales. The company said US sales had been hit by lower bread consumption due to the popularity of low-carb diets, reported Dow Jones International News.