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UPDATE 1-Spirits firm Campari cheered as drinkers liven up staycations

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MILAN, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Sales at Italian spirits group Campari bounced back more strongly than expected in the third quarter, as drinkers livened up their “staycations” with aperitifs and cocktails.

The maker of the red Campari aperitif and orange Aperol liqueur said on Tuesday like-for-like sales jumped 12.9% in July-September after a 15.9% drop in the second quarter.

Analysts had on average expected third-quarter sales to fall by more than 3%.

Campari shares were up 2.28% at 1038 GMT, outperforming a small fall in Milan’s blue-chip index.

The company noted a recovery in Italy, which accounts for nearly one-fifth of total sales, as people resumed socialising after the easing of lockdowns imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

It also pointed to good weather and increased consumption in drinkers’ home markets, where many of them spent their holidays due to the pandemic, calling that a “staycation effect”.

However, CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz cautioned the improvement could be short lived as a second wave of COVID-19 contagion hits Italy and other key markets for the group.

“With the resurgence of the pandemic in many areas of the world towards the end of the third quarter, the overall scenario in the short-term remains highly uncertain,” he said in a statement.

Aperol, the key ingredient for the popular Spritz cocktail, and Tequila Espolon were the best selling products in the third quarter, boosting sales in Italy and the United States respectively. (Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Mark Potter)