Beverage group, Fraser & Neave, reported net profit for the first half of the year of S$103.2m ($57m), up 7.1% from last year's figure of S$96.4m. The company attributed the positive results to continued strong growth from its beverage business and improved returns from its property division.

The company, which produces soft drinks as well as the well known Tiger beer brand, is also forecasting higher net profit for the full year. "Our target of achieving earnings per share of S$1 by financial year 2003 is still on track," said F&N's executive chairman, Michael Fam.

Net earnings per share for the half-year stood at 34.7 Singapore cents, up from 32.3 cents last year. Sales were up by 6.5% to S$1.58 billion, while profits at the pre-tax level were 5% higher at S$208.2m.

F&N is a diversified company, with brewing and soft drinks operations as well as other activities in the food, property and publishing sectors. Sales from soft drinks climbed 7.5% to S$192.9m, with volumes up by 2%.

F&N reported a 7.2% rise in revenues from its brewing activities, but its 38%-owned Asia Pacific Breweries Ltd (APB) operation, the company which produces Tiger beer, posted 19% drop in first-half net profit to S$51m. However, APB's 2001 first-half figure had been buoyed by a S$19.3m exceptional gain. Excluding exceptionals, APB's net profit would have risen by 18% to S$51m. Improved sales in Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand were given as the main reasons for the underlying improvement at APB which is 43%-owned by Heineken.