US, emerging markets come to aid of Pernod Ricard

French beverage company Pernod Ricard sees profit rise slightly despite European crisis

Associated Press

PARIS (AP) -- Strong growth in the U.S. and emerging markets helped French wine and spirits company Pernod Ricard boost its annual profit by 4 percent despite a difficult year in Europe.

The company behind Absolut vodka and Mumm champagne said Thursday that its net income was 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion), up from 1.1 billion euros last year. Unlike most companies, Pernod Ricard's fiscal year runs from July to June.

The profit was largely in line with the consensus of analysts surveyed by FactSet. Investors were pleased and the company's share price was up 1.3 percent soon after the open.

Its sales were also up 4 percent for the year, rising to 8.6 billion euros.

"Despite a less buoyant environment than that of last year, we achieved our guidance," said Pierre Pringuet. The company's goal had been growth of 6 percent in profit from recurring operations, a mark it hit exactly.

Much of the company's success over the past 12 months came from Asia and Africa, where recurring profit was up 15 percent. By contrast, it dropped 18 percent in France and fell 2 percent in the rest of Europe.

The company said that it expects the coming year to be just as tough as the last, with Europe continuing to drag on its profits despite expected further improvements in U.S. and emerging markets. Overall, the company anticipates growth in the coming fiscal year.

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