February 19, 2014 / 10:46 PM / 4 years ago

Australia's Treasury Wine H1 earnings slide 38 pct on sales drop

SYDNEY, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Australia’s Treasury Wine Estates Ltd, the world’s second-largest winemaker, said on Thursday first-half earnings fell 37.6 percent as business costs grew and sales volumes dipped globally.

Operating earnings for the six months ended Dec. 31 totaled A$45.8 million ($41.37 million), down from A$73 million last year.

The result came in at the top end of the A$42 million to A$46 million range the company provided in January when it issued a profit warning.

Treasury Wine, which owns the Penfolds and Beringer labels, has been considered a takeover target since it warned that weak demand in China and tough competition would drag down annual earnings by a fifth, prompting a share selloff.

Treasury Wine said on Wednesday total sales volume was 15.26 million cases, down 7.5 percent on the prior corresponding period, driven principally by lower volume in the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

Interim net profit rose to A$106.2 million from A$45 million previously, but that included an A$80.5 million tax benefit based on changes to “relative market values”.

Treasury shares closed at A$3.70 on Wednesday, having fallen a fifth since the January profit warning.

$1 = 1.1071 Australian dollars Reporting by Byron Kaye, editing by Jane Wardell and G Crosse

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