OSAKA — Beverage company Suntory Ltd. said Friday its group net profit in the first half of 2001 fell 24.1 percent from a year earlier to 5.65 billion yen.

The fall was attributed to advertising expenses overwhelming sales profits amid increasing competition in the industry, Suntory officials said.

In the six months to June 30, the unlisted Osaka-based company saw its pretax profit drop 33.4 percent to 17.25 billion yen, while sales rose 5.6 percent to 678.23 billion yen, buoyed mainly by sales of nonalcoholic beverages such as oolong tea. Advertising costs for food and alcoholic beverages, however, accounted for about 5 percent of total sales, Suntory said.

It is the first time Suntory has released a consolidated interim report. The comparisons were based on unofficial accounting figures that were not authorized by audit.

Food and nonalcoholic beverage sales rose 14.9 percent to 316.5 billion yen, while those of alcoholic beverages slipped 1 percent to 270.1 billion yen.

Group operating profit decreased 28 percent to 24.80 billion yen, the company said.

On a parent-only basis, Suntory saw its net profit plunge 46.8 percent from a year before to 3.95 billion yen, with a pretax profit of 8.05 billion yen, down 56.8 percent on sales of 404.01 billion yen, up 0.9 percent.

For the full business year to Dec. 31, Suntory expects to post a group net profit of 32.4 billion yen and a pretax profit of 78.3 billion yen, on sales of 1.47 trillion yen.

Sapporo posts loss

Sapporo Breweries Ltd. said Friday it incurred a consolidated net loss of 3.9 billion yen, or 11.51 yen per share, in the January-June period.

The leading brewery also posted a consolidated pretax loss of 2.2 billion yen on group sales of 258.58 billion yen.

The results in the first half of the current business year reflect weak consumer spending and increased preference for low-priced products, as well as intensified competition, Sapporo said.

Year-on-year comparisons of the results are unavailable as the company did not release interim consolidated results in the past.

On a parent-company basis, Sapporo registered a pretax loss of 2.13 billion yen and a net loss of 2.91 billion yen, on sales of 214.91 billion yen.

The Toyo-based company chalked up 1.17 billion yen and 2.44 billion yen in pretax and net profits, on sales of 215.24 billion yen a year earlier.

For the full year, Sapporo expects a consolidated pretax profit of 10.8 billion yen and a net profit of 5.4 billion yen, on group sales of 566 billion yen.

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