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Australia's Coca-Cola Amatil Full Year Profit Up 13%

Australian soft drinks firm Coca-Cola Amatil beat market expectations with a 13 percent rise in year profit, as it raised prices to offset higher aluminium and other commodity prices.

The company also said it expects growth in commodity input costs to ease this year.

Coca-Cola Amatil, which is 30 percent owned by the Coca-Cola, said net profit before one-offs rose to A$366.3 million ($330 million) from A$323.5 million a year ago.

That was above market expectations of A$360.3 million for net profit before one-offs, according to a Reuters Estimates survey of nine analysts.

The company had forecast 10-11 percent growth.

"The result has been driven by improved pricing and product mix and a number of successful new product launches," said Managing Director Terry Davis in a statement.

Coca-Cola Amatil said the cost of goods sold increased by 6.3 percent in both the second half and the full year, mainly due to higher aluminium costs, but the rate of growth was expected to slow to 3-4 percent growth on a constant currency basis.

The firm has diversified away from fizzy drinks, which now account for about 68 percent of revenues, compared with 95 percent in 2001. Sales of bottled water and sports drinks have been strong.

It has set its sights on becoming the No. 3 player in beer in Australia through its Pacific Beverages joint venture with the world's second-largest brewer, SABMiller. Last week the two announced they would build a new brewery to be completed in 2010.

Pacific Beverages markets and distributes premium beers including Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Miller Genuine Draft, and sales grew by 150 percent over 2007.

For the 2008 fiscal year, analysts expect Amatil to report a net profit of A$395 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company said it would give a trading update in May.

Its shares have slipped 7.2 percent this year, beating the broader market's 11.5 percent fall, after gaining 22 percent in 2007.