Pernod Ricard reports profit rise

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French wine and spirits group Pernod Ricard, the maker of Absolut vodka and Havana Club rum, on Thursday said its full-year profits rose slightly but the result came in below analyst expectations.

The number two drinks maker in the world after Britain's Diageo said it had made a profit of 951 million euros (1.2 billion dollars) in its financial year ending in June -- a rise of 1.0 percent from the previous year.

Analysts had been expecting profits of 983 million euros.

The company said its sales fell by two percent to 7.081 billion euros in a "contrasting economic environment" that saw strong growth in emerging economies, signs of recovery in Europe but only a "very gradual recovery of consumer spending in the US against a continuing uncertain backdrop."

Chief executive Pierre Pringuet said in a statement that the group's priorities for the current financial year were the development of its premium strategic brands, marketing investment and the reduction of debt.

The company said it would propose a dividend of 1.34 euros per share.

© 2010 AFP

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