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Lion ahead, dividend up

By Chris Hutching

Friday 16th May 2003

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Lion Nathan's beer brewing operations in Australia and New Zealand buoyed its half-year profit result to the end of March and profits from its wine subsidiaries were well ahead.

Net profit after tax was up 10.2% to $A110.3 million while cashflow was up 26% to $73.6 million

The Australian brewing business was generally flat but delivered earnings before interest and tax of $A184.7 million, up 3.5% in a competitive market.

Earnings from the New Zealand brewing business were ahead 7.4% to $NZ56.9 million.
Lion enjoyed strong volume growth in its Chinese beer operations (branded volumes up 26%) but the business has yet to break even, which Lion is forecasting for the second half of the current year.

Sales for its wine business were up 12% to 396,200 cases.

A dividend of 13c a share has been struck ­ up 63% on the same period last year.

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