PARIS, April 24 (Reuters) - French spirits maker Pernod Ricard posted weaker-than-expected third-quarter sales on Thursday, hit by persistent weakness in its key Chinese market, and it kept a target for slower full-year profit growth.
The world’s second-biggest spirits group behind Britain’s Diageo said the U.S. market remained robust but slowed slightly from the first half, while a late Easter and excise duty increases weighed on Europe.
Pernod Ricard posted sales of 1.616 billion euros ($2.23 billion) in the three months to March 31, flat year-on-year on a like-for-like basis and a slowdown from 2 percent growth in the second quarter.
This was below the average of analysts’ estimates of 1.2 percent growth for the quarter.
On a reported basis, quarterly revenue fell 7 percent due to weaker currencies notably in emerging markets.
Pernod, the owner of Mumm champagne, Absolut vodka and Martell cognac, kept its forecast of underlying operating profit growth of between 1-3 percent in the full year to June 30, slowing from 6 percent growth in the previous year. ($1 = 0.7231 Euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by James Regan)