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JAPAN: Sapporo Holdings sees soft drinks pull on H1

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Sapporo Holdings has posted net losses for its first half, with sales also recording a dip in the six-month period.

The Japanese beer and soft drinks producer said late last week that net profits in the first half of 2008 of JPY9.59bn (US$100.9m) reversed to losses of JPY738m. The difference was blamed largely on gains on fixed asset sales booked in the first half of 2008.

Sales also headed south, by 6% year-on-year at JPY182.41bn, while operating profits held steady at JPY1.34bn versus JPY1.16bn.

Sapporo said that it had seen "some indications that the domestic economy was starting to recover" in the second quarter, but warned that "consumers remained reluctant to loosen their purse strings". Total demand for beer and beer-type products in the first half slipped by 1%. International beer sales were hit by the ongoing economic downturn in the US, with sales of premium-priced imported beers declined by around 10%.

Soft drinks sales dragged on Sapporo's performance, with sales plunging by 19% year-on-year, to JPY14.8bn. The company added, however, that its "ongoing programme to boost earnings power via a select-and-focus approach" saw the segment's operating losses improve by JPY200m to JPY370m.

Going forward, Sapporo warned that this "significant decline" in soft drink sales in the first half should see sales in the full-year come in at around JPY400bn, representing a 4% dip on 2008.

Full-year profit forecasts, however, remain unchanged from those announced in February, with operating profits expected to come in 18% down on last year at JPY12bn, and net income estimated to be 61% down at JPY3bn.

For Sapporo's official press release, click here.


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