The Japanese brewer, Kirin Brewery Corp., has said it expects its operating profit for the six months to the end of June to come in at Y38 billion (US$318m), 12% up on the corresponding period last year, but said operating profit could fall for the full year.

The company said that the accounts had not been finalised but said that a cost-cutting programme had allowed it to exceed its earlier operating profit forecast of Y36 billion.

However, the brewer added that weak sales may impact negatively on operating profit in the second half, preventing it from achieving its target of Y100 billion for the full fiscal year.

"Even if you cut costs, there is a limit," a Kirin spokesman said. "In the worst case, we might see operating profit fall by as much as 10%."

Kirin, Japan's second largest brewer after Asahi, is to publish its first-half results officially on August 8.