Remy Cointreau says Asian taste for cognac boosts profit

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French spirits group Remy Cointreau said on Tuesday it had more than tripled its net profits in the first half of its fiscal year amid "remarkable growth" in Asian sales of premium cognac.

Net profits from April to September were at 47.5 million euros ($63.3 million), up from 14.1 million euros in the same period last year, the company said in a statement.

Sales were up 11 percent to 475 million euros, operating profit was up 27 percent to 106.2 million euros and the operating margin had risen from 19.5 to 22.4 percent.

The statement said the group had "achieved remarkable growth in Asia and a strong performance in the US and Europe."

The biggest gains were in the company's cognac division, Remy Martin, which saw operating profits jump by 27.6 percent to 91.2 million euros on the back of a 26.5 percent increase in sales.

"Remy Martin is benefitting fully from a thriving Asian economy, particularly in Chinese markets where superior qualities reported the strongest growth rates," the company said.

The company's liqueurs and spirits division, which includes Cointreau liqueur and Mount Gay Rum, saw operating profits rise 14.8 percent to 24.1 million euros.

The company said its net debt had fallen to 114 million euros from 484.7 million euros a year earlier, thanks to the sale of its Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck champagne business to EPI for 412.2 million euros.

"The good results in the first half-year enable us to confirm a substantial increase in earnings at the end of March 2012," the statement said.

Traders welcomed the results and at 0930 GMT Remy Cointreau stocks were up 2.69 percent to 61.77 euros on the Paris exchange.

© 2011 AFP

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