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The Associated Press April 26, 2012, 03:42AM ET

Liquor purveyor Pernod Ricard's sales up 5 percent

Solid growth in sales of cognac and other liquors in emerging markets offset a decline in France for beverage purveyor Pernod Ricard, which reported a 5 percent increase in third-quarter sales Thursday.

The maker of Beefeater gin and Jameson whisky said the drop in French sales was largely due to an excise duty increase. Still, the group managed to grow overall revenue to (EURO)1.7 billion ($2.3 billion) for the January to March period, its fiscal third quarter.

The company's shares opened up on Paris bourse, gaining 0.8 percent in early trading.

Revenue in the company's home market fell 42 percent after wholesalers mostly sat out the third quarter, having stocked up on liquor before the duty increase came into effect in January. Pernod Ricard, known for its anise-flavored liqueurs, said it expected sales would continue to be hit by the trend in the last quarter of the year.

Europe's economic slowdown, which is cutting into consumer spending, also contributed to the drop-off. But the company noted that discounting the effects of "destocking" and an early Chinese New Year, which also hurt sales, growth would have been 8 percent. That's in line with what it was for the first half of the year.

Sales in Asia, Africa and the Middle East were brisk, rising 15 percent. That's good news for Pernod Ricard since nearly half of its revenue comes from those regions. The company said sales of its Martell cognac were particularly booming, rising 26 percent in the first nine months of the year.

Unlike most companies, Pernod Ricard's financial year ends June 30.

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