Marine Harvest, the world's largest salmon farmer, said yesterday it expected overall costs to increase this year due to higher raw material prices and production costs, as it reported fourth-quarter earnings slightly ahead of analysts' expectations.

The company, which employs 450 in Scotland, also said it was worried about the market outlook in the Americas, where salmon prices have been well below break-even, not helped by problems with fish disease in Chile.

Net earnings crept up to £8 million, slightly higher than the last two quarters, but still around one-sixth of earnings a year earlier.

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