The Australian beer and wine group, Lion Nathan, is expected to report a 19% increase in net profit for the 2001/2002 fiscal year, on the back of a positive performance from its Australian beer operations.

According to analysts, Lion Nathan is also expected to give an update on current trading in Australia, New Zealand and China, and to maintain its double-digit earnings growth forecast.

"The outlook for Australian beer sales should improve during FY03, (although volumes are still likely to decline), suggesting potential upside to forecasts," said ABN AMRO in a research note. ABN AMRO also said it expects the company's beer operations in Australia to "drive positive earnings growth, with New Zealand also contributing significantly."

A survey of seven analysts' forecasts by Dow Jones Newswires gave an average forecast of a net profit of A$161.7m for the year to the end of September which is broadly in line with Lion Nathan's own prediction. The company said in August that it was forecasting a net profit of around A$160m against a comparable net profit figure of A$135.4m last year.