April 24 (Bloomberg) -- Remy Cointreau SA, France’s second-biggest distiller, said fourth-quarter sales fell as an earlier Chinese New Year pushed sales linked to the event into the previous three-month period.
So-called organic sales, which exclude the effects of acquisitions and currency fluctuations, slid 8.3 percent in the three months ended March 31, the Paris-based company said today in a statement. That was a steeper decline than the 3.4 percent median estimate of eight analysts. Third-quarter sales rose at double the pace analysts expected.
Chinese New Year took place on Jan. 23 this year, 11 days earlier than in 2011, leading fourth-quarter cognac revenue to drop 9.8 percent compared with 55 percent growth in the previous three months, when consumers in Asia bought expensive bottles of the spirit as gifts ahead of the weeklong festival.
While quarterly sales were at the lower end of expectations, “underlying trends remain very good with double-digit organic growth in Asia and the U.S.,” Melissa Earlam, an analyst at UBS AG in London, wrote today in a note.
Remy advanced 1.33 euros, or 1.7 percent, to 79.77 euros as of 11:30 a.m. in Paris.
Sales for the year rose 13 percent to 1.03 billion euros ($1.4 billion), or 16 percent on an organic basis, Remy said.
The distiller said it expects to report a “substantial increase” in full-year results, “with significant double-digit growth in current operating profit” for the 12 months through March. It had previously forecast growth on the same basis of 15 percent to 18 percent and said in January that it expected profit growth to slow in the second half of the year.
“We have finished the year like we thought and are ready to confirm that figure, with a slight potential for an upside,” Finance Director Frederic Pflanz said today on a call with analysts, referring to growth in current operating profit.
Sales at the liqueurs and spirits unit slid 3.7 percent in the fourth quarter, the company said.
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