UPDATE 1-Ito En FY08 operating profit likely fell 46 pct: Nikkei

Fri May 22, 2009 5:24pm EDT

May 23 (Reuters) - Tea drink producer Ito En Ltd's (2593.T) consolidated operating profit for the fiscal year ended April 30 is believed to have plunged 46 percent to about 10.3 billion yen ($108.7 million), the Nikkei business daily said without citing sources.

Higher materials costs, including packaging materials, have hurt profit by about 2 billion yen, the paper said adding that concerns about the safety of produce grown in China depressed the domestic vegetable drink market.

Overall sales were likely unchanged at 328 billion yen even though the firm had anticipated a 3 percent increase, the Nikkei said.

Sales of its mainline green tea beverages rose 1.2 percent on the year for the 11 months through March 31, it added.

The tougher business climate brought on by competition and weak consumer spending forced the company to sell more products at a discount, the paper said.

For the current fiscal year through April 2010, Ito En is expected to post a higher profit, it said. ($1=94.77 Yen) (Reporting by Renju Jose in Bangalore; Editing by Ratul Ray Chaudhuri)

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