Baltika has posted a healthy lift in operating profit for the first half of this year.

The Russian brewer, which is owned by Carlsberg and Scottish & Newcastle's Eastern European joint venture Baltic Beverages Holding, said earlier this week that operating profit for the six-month period leapt by 39.5% year-on-year to EUR256.1m (US$350.3m).

The impressive rise came on the back of increasing sales, up 35.9% in the period to EUR1.06bn. Beer volumes were also up, by 29.6% to 21.8m hectolitres.

"Defying the unfavorable trends of rising input and distribution costs in H1 2007, the company achieved strong financial results due to positive impact of operational leverage, performance of power brands and portfolio mix and final $20m synergy effects from the merger," said Baltika's president Anton Artemiev. "In H1 2007 the company strengthened its leadership on the Russian beer market and widened its operations worldwide."

The company was particularly pleased with its performance abroad in the period, with Switzerland, North Korea and Mexico taking deliveried for the first time, and Mongolia resuming deliveries. Export sales in the half grew by 15%, reaching 0.9m hectolitres.

In April, Scottish & Newcastle signed a license agreement to brew Baltika No.3 Classicheskoye in the UK.

Moving forward, Baltika said it expects market growth to slow in the second half to between 11% and 13%. "In the medium term we keep our market growth estimates of 3-5%," the company said.