Despite a fall in sales, Asahi Breweries has posted a 30% jump in 2005 net profit to JPY39.87bn (US$340m). However the growth was compared to a depressed 2004, when the company was hit by high one-off losses.

Group operating profit, fell 11% to JPY90.25bn, while its group sales slipped 1.0% to JPY1.430 trillion from JPY1.444 trillion in 2004.

The Japanese beer market continues to be a highly competitive business environment as an ageing population and changing consumer tastes see beer sales fall. However, Asahi volumes fell at a faster rate than the general market in 2005.

Asahi said its overall beer sales, including regular beer, low-malt "happoshu" beer and third beer, fell 5.2% to 193.34m cases in 2005, worse than the 3% decline in the overall beer market.

Looking forward, Asahi said it expects its full year group net profit to rise 12% to JPY44.50bn with a 4.5% rise in group sales to JPY1.495 trillion. Group operating profit is projected to climb 16% to JPY105.00bn.