leading cotton processor and marketer, Namoi Cotton Cooperative Ltd, on Wednesday announced a 79 per cent year-on-year leap in first half net profit to A$16.8 million.

The company said it expects a full-year profit in the range of A$8m to A$10m but warned the nation’s cotton output could almost halve in 2003 due to a prolonged drought in New South Wales and Queensland.

Chief executive Bob Bell said total cotton production slipped 13 per cent in 2002 to just under 700,000 metric tons with it shipping around 310,000 bales, versus a record 530,000 bales last year.

"The strong result was also assisted by favourable growing conditions and improved yields," he added.