Foster's is making more from wine than beer, the company's year-end figures reveal.

The giant Australian brewer runs a portfolio of brands from North America to Southeast Asia. As well as some of the biggest-selling beers in the world it owns major Australian wine producer Mildara Blass, and bought Napa’s Beringer in 2000. Both give Foster’s a powerful presence in the premium wine market.

Now Foster’s has posted a 20.6% lift in net profit to AU$322.2m (€187.65m) for the six months ending 31 December 2001.

And while competition from pre-mixed drinks and one of the coolest Australian summers on record combined to depress overall beer sales, growth in wine earnings was a massive 49.2%, driven largely by the acquisition of Beringer.

Foster’s now takes more revenue from wine than from beer. In terms of returns, wine represented earnings of AU$250m (€146m), almost matching brewing returns

Foster’s CEO Ted Kunkel said rival brewer Lion Nathan’s aggressive push into Victoria had failed to make an impact on sales.

‘This demonstrates the underlying strength of the core beer and wine business which together have produced a strong result in extraordinary market circumstances,’ he said.

Investors have welcomed the results, pushing Foster’s shares to a high of AU$4, up 15 cents.

Written by Adam Lechmere12 February 2002