MEXICO CITY – Despite a nearly flat performance in sales, Grupo Bimbo S.A.B. de C.V. had net majority income of 1,268 million pesos ($104 million) in the first quarter ended March 31, which marked a 23% increase from 1,032 million pesos in the previous year’s first quarter, the Mexico City-based company said April 29. First-quarter sales of 28,250 million pesos ($2,317 million) compared to 28,357 million pesos in the previous year’s first quarter.

First-quarter operating income rose 20% to 2,615 million pesos and EBITDA increased 17% to 3,569 million pesos as a result of strong performance in Mexico and continued margin improvement in the United States. The company benefited in the United States from an additional 20 days compared to the year-ago period since the acquisition of Weston Foods, now named BBU East, was consolidated Jan. 21, 2009.

In the United States, first-quarter operating income rose 3.6% to 973 million pesos from 940 million pesos. The previously mentioned 20 days and a reduction in operating expenses led to the operating income increase.

First-quarter net sales in the United States fell 4.7% in pesos over the year-ago period to 11,434 million pesos from 11,995 million pesos primarily because of the impact of currency translation. In dollar terms, first-quarter U.S. sales increased 9%.