In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Australia's fourth biggest milk processor, Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory, said that it expects earnings for fiscal 2006 to be in line with the last financial year.

Warrnambol issued financial guidance stating that net profit for the year would remain at a "similar level" to the A$7.5m (US$5.61m) previously reported for the 2004/05 financial year.

The company said that earnings had been held back by the lower prices being commanded by dairy products. Other factors that Warrnambool identified as inhibiting profit growth included an increase in the amount the company pays suppliers for milk, the higher Australian dollar and milk consumption falling below expectations.

The guidance is based on current milk prices and anticipated sales for the remainder of the fiscal year.

At close of trade, Warrnambool's share price remained unchanged at A$3.45.