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Pernod Ricard banks on China and U.S. to help sales return to growth in full year

PARIS, Feb 11 (Reuters) - French spirits group Pernod Ricard said it expected its sales would return to organic growth in full year of 2020/21, thanks to strong demand for its premium cognac and whisky in the key U.S. and Chinese markets.

Pernod, which is the world’s second-biggest spirits group behind Diageo, cautioned against continued uncertainty and volatility as the COVID-19 crisis weigh on duty-free sales and on alcohol consumption in bars and restaurants.

Pernod, the maker of Martell cognac, Mumm champagne and Absolut vodka, reported weaker but nevertheless better-than-expected first-half profits and sales, thanks to tight control over spending.

Double-digit sales growth in China and solid demand in the United States by people staying at home and consuming products and drinks also propped up Pernod’s results.

Pernod’s fiscal year starts on July 1.

First-half profit from current operations in the six months to Dec. 31 reached 1.595 billion euros ($1.93 billion), an organic decline of 2.4%, which was nevertheless better than analysts’ expectations for a 7.9% decline.

Sales reached 4.985 billion euros, representing an organic decline of 3.9%, which was better than analysts’ expectations for a 5.4% decline.

$1 = 0.8245 euros Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta

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