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Remy Cointreau Sales Rise in the First Half

French wines and spirits group Remy Cointreau reported a 5.7 percent rise in first-half sales on Thursday and reaffirmed it expected significant growth in full-year operating profit.

The maker of Remy Martin cognac, Cointreau liqueur and Piper Heidsieck champagne said sales in the six months to Sept. 30 had risen to 374.5 million euros ($531.2 million).

According to Reuters Estimates, five analysts had on average expected half-year sales of 375.7 million euros, after 354.4 million a year earlier.

Second-quarter sales were seen on average at 216.9 million euros, with forecasts in a range from 215.1 million to 220.0 million.

"Driven by the group's value strategy, the performance in the first six months of the year is in line with our guidance of significant organic growth in operating profitability for the 2007/08 financial year," Remy Cointreau said in a statement.

Remy Cointreau said it had seen strong growth in sales of its own brands during the first half of the year, as well as accelerated growth in Asia and Europe.

Remy Cointreau shares closed up 3.5 percent at 52.25 euros on Wednesday. The stock has risen around 7 percent since the start of 2007, slightly less than a 10 percent gain in the DJ Stoxx European food and beverage sector