Australian financial analysts have given cautious approval to BRL Hardy's new joint venture with the American liquor group Constellation Brands forecasting profits of A$71-72m (US$37.1m - US$37.6m) for calendar 2001.

Brokers ABN Amro said the deal was mildly positive and more comfortable than the earlier projected acquisition of the California based Kendall-Jackson. It forecast a net profit of A$72m rising to A$88m in 2002.

Merrill Lynch retained its forecast A$71m profit and said the new Pacific Wine Partners entity would not cannibalize Constellation's existing brands. BRL Hardy has been an outstanding performer on the Australian stock exchange. Since it listed as a A$67m-float in 1992 its market capitalisation has soared to A$1.54bn and its initial share price of A$1 has increased tenfold.

The company has had outstanding success in the UK and other exports market but failed to make the same headway in North America, which until the Constellation deal produced only about 7% of its earnings.