Scottish and Newcastle this morning reported an 8.2% rise in underlying first-half profit and said that it was confident of meeting its full-year objectives. The brewer saw profit before tax and exceptional items rise to £158m in the six months to the end of June. Analysts' had forecast between £155m and £165m. Turnover was up 4.2% to £2.382bn. The company announced that it had sold £76m of trade loans to HBOS, which will lead to a small reduction in operating profit for the full year through lost interest. The loans are part of a reported £240m in secured loans held by S&N, which lends money to publicans to develop their pubs at a competitive rate of interest while the ensuring the pubs buy its beers. The company said that after last year’s hot summer comparisons in western Europe were "more difficult for the second half of the year and trading in July has been weak due to disappointing weather conditions". Despite this, the company reported organic growth in beer volumes of 6% and in the UK the four key brands saw total volumes up 9%. S&N also reported ‘significant improvements’ in operational efficiency, including synergies from the integration of Bulmer. At BBH beer volumes grew 13% and gross margins improved but an increase in spend on advertising and promotion impacted on net margins.