The Australian beer and wine group, Lion Nathan, has announced that it is on track to record a net profit for the 2003 fiscal year of A$180m (US$107m), in spite of a tough first quarter in the Australian beer market. The forecast is in line with Lion Nathan's forecast in December of an 11% year-on-year rise in net profit.

Lion Nathan said it lost market share in Australia in the four months to December 2002 but beer volumes in China and its premium wine volumes were up.

"Going into the second quarter of the year, we remain confident that we will be able to deliver on our commitment to the market of achieving NPAT (net profit after tax) from operations for the 2003 fiscal year of A$180m," said Lion's CEO, Gordon Cairns.