The Dutch brewing group, Heineken, the world's fourth largest brewing force, has reported net profit for 2002 of €795m, up 11.2% on the previous year and in line with analysts' forecasts.

Operating profit rose by 14% to €1.28 billion and increased as a percentage of turnover from 12.1% in 2001 to 12.5% in 2002.

Net sales increased by 10% to €10.29 billion. Organic growth in net turnover was put at 6%, with higher prices and improvements in the sales mix accounting for 4%, while volume growth represented 2%.

Group volumes rose by 4.8% to 84.8m hls, while total beer volumes, which is the group volume plus sales from affiliated companies, increased from 105.1m hls to 108.9 m hls.

For the coming year, Heineken forecast further growth in spite of adverse economic conditions and the likelihood of higher costs. The company said 2003 would be a year of uncertainties, with higher pension fund charges, the costs of launching Heineken strong lager in the UK and worsening economic conditions in many markets putting pressure on margins.

"Despite these uncertainties, Heineken expects further growth in net profit in 2003," the company said. "The possible impact on our results of increasing international tensions can't be predicted."