The Dutch brewing group, Heineken, posted first-half net profit excluding exceptionals and goodwill amortisation of €334m (US$372m), up just 1% from the corresponding period last year. The company also forecast that full-year growth would be the same.

Heineken said first-half results, which were broadly in line with analysts' forecasts, were negatively affected by the global economic slowdown, the war in Iraq, a cold winter in North America and the SARS outbreak. A Reuters poll predicted a net profit in the range of €332m to €338m.

Operating profits rose by 1% to €588m. Net profit registered organic growth of 6%, the company said, while organic growth in operating profits was put at 7%.

Like its competitor, Interbrew, Heineken said that the strong euro had impacted negatively on its results. While beer volumes rose by 9% in the first half to 45.3m hectolitres, the brewer said this growth was largely cancelled out by the strong euro.

"With the strong euro continuing to exert pressure on profits, growth in net profit excluding items and amortisation of goodwill for 2003 as a whole will be in line with the figure for the first half of this year," the company said. Excluding currency exchange effects, turnover in the first half would have risen by 10%, Heineken said.

Heineken said that net profit, including a €71m exceptional gain from the sale of its stake in the Argentinean brewer, Quilmes, increased by 21% to €400m on turnover 6% higher at €4.61 billion.