Australian brewer Foster’s posts $93M annual loss

SYDNEY (AP) — Australia brewer Foster’s Group Ltd., which is the target of a hostile takeover bid by SABMiller, on Tuesday posted an annual loss of 89 million Australian dollars ($93 million) as beer sales fell.

The brewer also announced it would return AU$500 million to investors through a share buyback. The move comes a week after Foster’s rejected a $10 billion cash takeover offer from London-based rival SABMiller PLC, saying the bid significantly undervalues the company.

Excluding one-time items, the Melbourne-based company reported profit of AU$494.9 million ($514 million) for the 12 months ended June 30, down 9 percent from a year earlier.

Australian beer sales fell 6 percent for the year, in part due to economic uncertainty and severe weather, including a cyclone and major flooding in the country’s northeast earlier this year, the brewer said.

“Foster’s expects that the rate of decline in the Australian beer category will moderate in the first half of fiscal 2012,” it said in a statement.

Foster’s declared a dividend of 13.25 cents per share.

The company’s shares were up 1.5 percent to AU$4.98 around noon on Tuesday.

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