Pernod profit bubbles up

18th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 17 (AFP) - The French wine and spirits group Pernod Ricard said Thursday that net profit had risen by 5.1 percent in the first 12 months of its 2004-2005 business year, which is to last exceptionally for 18 months, from full-year 2003.

PARIS, March 17 (AFP) - The French wine and spirits group Pernod Ricard said Thursday that net profit had risen by 5.1 percent in the first 12 months of its 2004-2005 business year, which is to last exceptionally for 18 months, from full-year 2003.

The group declined to comment, however, on a report that it would bid for the British drinks giant Allied Domecq.

Pernod, which owns the whisky brands Aberlour, Bushmills, Chivas Regal and Glenlivet as well as Martell cognac, posted net profit of EUR 487 million (USD 650 million), on previously reported sales of EUR 3.572 billion.

Operating profit rose 9.6 percent to EUR 742 million in the group's core activities, which account for almost all of its results.

Pernod said it would pay a dividend for 2004 of EUR 2.14 per share.

At the end of December, group debt stood at EUR 1.8 billion, down EUR 265 million from the previous year's figure despite a company buyback of 101 million shares.

Looking ahead, chief executive Patrick Ricard said the group's strategy remained the same: "To grow our brands and look at acquisition opportunities as they arise."

He declined to comment, however, on the likelihood of Domecq being one of those opportunities.

In Britain, the Mail on Sunday said last weekend that Pernod had held talks with US-based Fortune Brands Inc. over a possible joint bid for Domecq, which produces Beefeater gin, Perrier Jouet champagne and Malibu rum.

On Thursday, Pernod shares fell by 1.88 percent to EUR 109.40 in Paris, while the CAC 40 index of leading shares gained 0.32 percent overall.

Although the group's net profit figure met market expectations, the shares were hit by a combination of profit taking and uncertainty generated by speculation on the bid to acquire Domecq, dealers said.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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