AP News

Drinks maker Pernod Ricard's profit rises 10 pct


PARIS (AP) — French beverage company Pernod Ricard said Thursday that its annual net profit increased 10 percent as its focus on Asia and premium brands delivered its best results since the global economic crisis began in 2008.

The company behind Absolut vodka and Mumm champagne said that its revenues grew 7 percent to €8.2 billion ($10.3 billion). Its net profit was €1.1 billion.

That figure, however, was slightly below analyst expectations of €1.2 billion, and shares on the Paris bourse were down 1.4 percent in afternoon trading.

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

Much of the company's growth is happening in Asia, where profit from recurring operations was up nearly 30 percent. That has offset struggling operations in western Europe, where the same measure fell 2 percent. The company, known for its anise-flavored liqueurs, said crisis-hit countries like Spain, Greece and Italy are responsible for that decrease.

Its home market of France also clocked a decline in profit and sales, although some of that can be attributed to an increase in an excise duty that took effect Jan. 1 and pummeled results in the first half of 2012.

Just as luxury retailers like LVMH Moet Hennessy have thrived during the economic crisis, thanks largely to robust demand from developing markets, Pernod Ricard has grown by doubling down on its premium brands, which now account for 73 percent of its sales, up two percentage points from last year.

CEO Pierre Pringuet said he was confident the company would grow again in 2012-2013 but wouldn't give precise expectations until the end of the first quarter.

The company also announced a new chairwoman of the board, Daniele Ricard. She takes over from her brother Patrick, who died earlier this month. Patrick Ricard transformed his father's small pastis purveyor into a global beverage company when he took over as chairman and CEO in 1978.

Patrick Ricard's nephew, Alexandre, was named deputy CEO and will take over from Pringuet when he retires in 2015.


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