Brewer Heineken reports 11% profit increase


Dutch brewer Heineken has reported an 11 per cent increase in first-half net profit from ordinary operations and predicted similar full-year earnings growth.

Heineken posted first-half net profit before one-off items of €330 million versus €298 million in the year-ago period. That was a whisker below a consensus forecast by seven analysts of €333 million. Estimates had ranged between €311 million and €342 million.

"The company expects an increase in net profit on ordinary activities for 2002 as a whole to be in line with the percentage growth in the first half of 2002," the brewer of Heineken, Amstel and Desperado beers said in a statement.

Heineken said its forecast was based on expectations that sales volume growth would be pressured by poor weather in large parts of Europe, but that the rise in operating profits in the second half would nevertheless top the first-half rate.

Heineken's forecast of an 11 per cent rise in profits this year follows net profit growth of 15 per cent last year and 20 per cent in 2000.

Analysts had expected the world's number four brewer to give concrete full-year guidance as it had until now said only that it saw "further growth" in 2002 net profit.

Heineken reported a 13 per cent increase in first-half operating profit to €581 million on sales of €4.958 billion, up 11 per cent from the year-ago period.

Heineken shares closed virtually flat at €42.51 on Wednesday, about the same level they ended at in 2001. In the year to date they have outperformed the broader Dow Jones Stoxx Food and Beverages index, which lost 3.4 per cent over the same period.