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UPDATE 1-New Zealand's Fonterra posts rise in annual profit on higher prices

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Sept 22 (Reuters) - New Zealand's Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd on Thursday posted a marginal jump in annual profit, boosted by strong demand and higher prices for its milk and protein products in Europe and the United States.

Strong dairy demand, coupled with tight supply due to dry weather conditions in New Zealand, resulted in favourable pricing for the Auckland-based firm's products.

Earlier this month, Fonterra also raised its fiscal 2023 earnings forecast to between 45 and 60 New Zealand cents per share, citing sustained period of favorable pricing for its protein and cheese portfolios as well as whole milk powder.

The world's biggest dairy exporter's normalised net profit after tax came in at NZ$591 million ($345.74 million) for the year ended July 31, compared with NZ$588 million a year earlier. It declared a final dividend of 15 NZ cents per share.

The company posted full-year normalised earning per share of 35 NZ cents. It had estimated 25-35 NZ cents apiece.

Fonterra also said it has decided to maintain full ownership of its Australian business after exploring numerous strategic options over the past year, including an initial public offer. ($1 = 1.7094 New Zealand dollars) (Reporting by Himanshi Akhand and Navya Mittal in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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