Pernod Ricard 'optimistic on U.S. holiday season'

PARIS Tue Dec 10, 2013 10:56am EST

PARIS Dec 10 (Reuters) - French spirits group Pernod Ricard expects a "positive" holiday season in the United States, its largest market, amid improving consumer sentiment and declining unemployment, its regional head said on Tuesday.

The world's second-biggest distilled drinks group by sales after Britain's Diageo also found that its inventory situation with U.S. wholesalers was "quite healthy", said Philippe Dreano, chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard Americas.

"A number of macro-economic signs and industry data point to a positive holiday season at this stage," Dreano told analysts during a conference call.

U.S. employers hired more workers than expected in November and the jobless rate hit a five-year low of 7.0 percent, raising chances the Federal Reserve could start ratcheting back its bond-buying stimulus as soon as this month.

Pernod Ricard makes around 15 percent of its sales in the United States.

The Americas region, which also comprises Canada, Mexico and Brazil, is the second-largest sales contributor for Pernod behind Asia. The Americas region accounted for 26 percent of group sales in the first quarter of fiscal year 2013-14.

The company, whose brands include Absolut vodka, Martell cognac and Mumm champagne, has predicted group growth in underlying profit from recurring operations of between 4 and 5 percent for the full year ending June 30, 2014, after weak demand in China hit sales in the first quarter.

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