Pernod Ricard says Chinese demand for Martell cognac helped lift full year net profit

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chinese demand helps lift Pernod Ricard profits

PARIS — Pernod Ricard SA said Thursday that demand for Martell cognac in China and Chivas Regal scotch in Latin America helped lift full-year net profit by 1 percent.

The Paris-based company, known for its anise-flavored aperitifs as well as Beefeater gin and recently acquired Absolut vodka, reported net profit of euro951 million in the year to end-June, up from euro945 million a year earlier.

However, revenue fell 2 percent to euro7.08 billion in the period, hurt by an unfavorable exchange rate.

Growing demand in Asia, a rebound in Russia and a modest recovery in the U.S. compensated for continuing difficulties in Europe, where consumers in struggling Spain, Greece and Ireland are shying away from premium-priced liquor.

Pernod said its top performers over the year were Martell and Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Martell reported “outstanding” growth in Asia, particularly China, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Jameson reported strong results from the “lost barrel” TV campaign in the United States, and accelerated growth in South Africa after a TV ad campaign during the football World Cup. There was a slight decline in its home market of Ireland, Pernod Ricard said.

The weakest of its top 14 brands were Mumm champagne and Ballantine’s, both of which recorded a fall in sales and volumes. Mumm suffered from the economic slump with declines in most markets except Japan. Ballantine’s noted a decline in its superior quality liquors.

The company’s chief executive Pierre Pringuet described the results as “solid.”

Looking ahead, he said the company’s priorities “remain the development of our premium strategic brands, a continuing strong marketing investment level, and the reduction in group debt.”

The group will give a detailed financial outlook Nov. 10.

Pernod’s share price was down 2.2 percent at euro61.35 in Paris midday trading.

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