Foster's has posted a marked dip in profits for the full-year, despite a rise in sales.

In a busy day for the Australian drinks company, Foster's said today (28 August) that net profit in the 12 months to the end of June fell by 17.1% on the corresponding period a year earlier, coming in at A$966.2m (US$797m). Sales for the period were up, however, by 5% to A$4.77bn.

Stripping out significant items, the company noted that net profit was actually up, by 16.8% to A$716.1m, with the company's CEO maintaining that Foster's was "heading in the right direction". The company benefitted in the year from a A$131.5m net gain on a brewery sale in Australia, with the 2006 fiscal year having seen a A$704.9m gain from the sale of breweries in Asia and beer brands in Europe.

Trevor O'Hoy said: "My faith and confidence in the (Australian) business model we have built remains as strong as ever. While I maintain that we can - and should - do better, all the financial indicators are heading in the right direction."

Foster's said it was particularly happy with the continued momentum of its global wine sales. While sales of wine in volume terms were up by 4.7%, constant currency net sales rose by 7.3%. The group's Rosemount label, which was relaunched in August last year, also saw sales improve in the 12-month period - up 8.3% in volume and 1.5% in value.

In geographical terms, net sales in Australia, Asia and the Pacific lifted by 6.5% in value terms to A$870m, while Americas delivered 3.6% growth, to A$254.2m. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, sales were up by 18.8% to A$82.2m.

Looking forward, Foster's said it expects its global volumes in fiscal 2008 to be "similar" to fiscal 2007, driven by a portfolio refocus towards higher margin products.

At the same time as delivering the results, Foster's said it will buy back A$350m of its shares. Up to A$250m worth of shares will be bought through an off-market buy-back tender, while the remaining A$100m will be bought through an on-market buy-back after the former tender is completed.

Finally, the company confirmed that group CFO, Pete Scott, will be retiring and returning to the US. The company has begun a search for his successor, who is expected to replace Scott at some point during the current financial year.