Lion Nathan has today confirmed it is still on course to deliver its projected profit for the current fiscal year. The Australian company said that operations in fiscal 2004 will allow profits to rise by between 8% and 11% to between A$195m (US$145m) and A$200m as forecast last month.

The company also said its guidance of 5% growth in earnings before interest, tax, and amortisation should also be met.

According to Lion Nathan, three separate factors will affect earnings growth in its fiscal first half year ending 31 March. One-off restructuring changes of around A$5m pretax will be taken in the New Zealand and Australian beer business, while a weaker New Zealand dollar will result in a poorer translation of New Zealand earnings to Australian dollars. The company will also take a higher charge for corporate costs.

In a separate matter, Lion Nathan's search for a successor to Gordon Cairns, who announced his retirement as chief executive earlier this year, is "well advanced" with a shorlist of three.