The Beston Wine Industry Trust has seen 2003 half-year net profit after tax of A$4.03m, up 70% from the previous corresponding period figure of A$2.37m. Record revenue growth was also achieved, with a 71% increase in revenues to A$7.92m for the half-year.

Profit growth was driven by the 72% increase in property assets from 30 June 2003 to reach A$216.44m, with total assets increasing A$111.12m (84%) to a record A$242.69m, of which cash on deposit is A$24.03m.

A 28% reduction of the Trust's Management Expense Ratio (MER) from 1.49% in the 2002 half-year to 1.07% for the 2003 half-year based on average Unitholders' funds also contributed to profit growth.

The Trust's half-year results are in line with estimates contained in the recent A$55m capital raising prospectus.

Total expenditure on property acquisitions and property developments for the half was $91 million. This now gives the Trust a portfolio of 30 vineyards and 3 wineries, placing it as the third largest vineyard owner in Australia, behind only Southcorp and Beringer Blass (subsidiary of Foster's), with a total of 3095.5 hectares (7,649 acres) under vine in the premium wine regions of Australia and New Zealand.

Looking forward, the Trust said in a statement: "Challenger Beston Limited, the Responsible Entity for the Trust, has identified a number of investment opportunities that it believes complements the Trust's growth strategy and is continuing due diligence on these assets. Expenditure on the Trusts development properties continues, as do upgrades to the Trusts existing vineyards to ensure they are maintained in accordance with best viticultural practices.

"The Beston Wine Industry Trust is now well placed to partner the wine industry to meet the challenges facing it as an established and significant contributor to the development of additional vineyard properties in Australia and New Zealand. The Trust's sale and leaseback product assists wine companies to improve their capital management practises and allows them to keep pace with the demands of the domestic and international market places while providing investors a stable income stream that is derived from rental incomes and not directly subject to the agricultural risks and fluctuations inherent in grape production."