The Norwegian brewing and media concern, Orkla, announced a steep fall in pre-tax profits from NKr801m to NKr125m (US$17.8m) for the fourth quarter to the end of December. The company attributed the fall to the weak world economy and strong Norwegian currency.

The result was well below the average forecast in a Reuters poll which had predicted a pre-tax profit of NKr596m However, Orkla was upbeat about the coming year.

"As far as the future prospects can be judged at the time of writing, all in all, Orkla Foods, Orkla Brands and Orkla Beverages appear likely to achieve a certain amount of profit growth," the company said. "For Orkla Media, there is no sign of an improvement in the advertising markets."

Orkla's sales slipped from NKr11.58 billion to NKr10.98 billion, below forecasts for around NKr11.29 billion.