March 24, 2020 / 7:18 AM / 6 days ago

UPDATE 1-Drinks group Pernod sees 20% hit to operating profit due to coronavirus

(Adds detail and background)

PARIS, March 24 (Reuters) - French spirits group Pernod Ricard warned on Tuesday of a hit of around 20% to its current operating profit as a result of the slump in business caused by the global coronavirus crisis.

Pernod, the biggest international spirits maker in China and the world’s second-biggest behind Diageo, had already cut its outlook for full-year profit growth February as a result of the hit to business from the virus.

Pernod added it was in a solid financial position to be able to cope with the impact of the outbreak, and that it had 3.4 billion euros ($3.7 billion) available in credit lines.

“The environment has very significantly deteriorated due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We are encouraged to see that, thanks to the implementation of strong measures, China appears to be starting to make a gradual recovery,” said Alexandre Ricard, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pernod.

“While we cannot predict the duration and extent of the impact, we remain confident in our strategy,” he added.

$1 = 0.9259 euros Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Kim Coghill and Louise Heavens

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