Australia's Foster's Half-year Profit Down 12 Pct

SYDNEY (AP) - Australian brewer and winemaker Foster's Group Ltd. reported on Tuesday a 12 percent drop in half-year net profit, as torrential rain and flooding across parts of Australia cut into domestic beer sales.

The Melbourne-based company said in a statement that profit for the six months ended Dec. 31 was $312.1 million Australian dollars ($313 million), down from AU$355.7 million in the same period a year ago.

Foster's said much of the drop was a result of a seven percent decline in Australian beer market volume. The company blamed the weak sales on a spate of extreme weather that has hit the country during the peak southern hemisphere summer months, including massive flooding in the northeast state of Queensland.

The company also said it was continuing with its plans to split its global beer and troubled wine businesses into separate listed companies. Foster's expects the demerger to be completed in May 2011.