Pernod Ricard sees profit rise 2%, China weighs

French spirits maker Pernod Ricard reported full-year underlying profit growth of 2 percent on Thursday, broadly in line with analysts' expectations, amid persistent weakness in China.

The world's second-biggest spirits group behind Britain's Diageo said full-year 2013/14 sales fell a reported 7 percent, hit by unfavourable currency effects and a 23 percent slump in China. Like-for-like sales were stable.

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"In this context, which remains challenging, we anticipate a gradual improvement in our sales growth, and we will increase the investment behind our brands and priority innovations in order to sustain long-term growth," Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer Alexandre Ricard said in a statement.

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Like rivals Diageo and Remy Cointreau, Pernod has been hit by a Chinese government crackdown on luxury gift-giving and personal spending by civil servants as well as by slowing economic growth in its second-biggest market.

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Pernod, the owner of Mumm champagne, Absolut vodka and Martell cognac, reported a 2 percent rise in underlying profit to 2.056 billion euros ($2.72 billion) for its financial year ending June 30.

This was in line with Pernod's guidance for underlying operating profit growth of 1 to 3 percent, slowing from 6 percent growth in the previous year. Analysts had on average expected 1.8 percent growth.

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