Nigerian Breweries has posted a large drop in annual profits. According to the Heineken unit's unaudited and provisional results released by the Nigerian Stock Exchange on Friday (15 April), profits after tax in 2004 fell to NGN5.1bn (US$39.3m) from NGN7.3bn in 2003.

Turnover for the brewer rose, however, by 17% to NGN73.6bn from NGN63bn a year earlier.

Speaking to Reuters, analysts blamed falling demand and rising input prices for the poor performance. "Cost of production, especially energy, has been on the increase," Mike Uzor of Datatrust Consult told the press agency.

Comfort Jumbo of Futureview Securities also told Reuters: "Demand for their products is falling as people are spending more on fuel and phone calls."

Shares in the brewer have dropped by over 50% since January as investors dumped them in anticipation of the full-year results, Reuters noted.