Profit at Diageo fizzes and dividend given a shot

Diageo (LON:DGE), the group behind Smirnoff and Guinness, has announced that its full-year profit has grown by 22 per cent and will toast its success by raising its dividend 8 per cent to 43.5p.

 Profit at Diageo fizzes and dividend given a shot

For the year to June 2012, the drinks maker posted an operating profit of £3.2 billion, up more than a fifth from the £2.6 billion delivered in the same period last year.

Paul Walsh, Diageo’s chief executive, celebrated the results. ‘Diageo is a strong business, getting stronger’, he said, ‘and the results we released this morning show that very clearly.’

Walsh emphasised the contribution of ‘the faster growing markets of the world’, with the company pushing into emerging economies ‘through both acquisitions and strong organic growth’.

Organic growth hit a dizzying average of 20 per cent in Africa, Asia and Latin America. But growth in Europe and North America was more temperate, at 3 per cent and 6 per cent respectively.

Even the slight growth in Europe masked a 1 per cent droop in net sales for the region. The profit boost was only achieved by progress in Russia, Eastern Europe and Turkey.

Andrew Morgan, the president of Diageo Europe, noted that ‘scotch remained very strong in the emerging markets, offsetting decline in Southern Europe’. Importantly, the growth includes the £1.3 billion acquisition in 2011 of Mey İçki, a Turkish producer of raki. Net sales in Turkey duly leapt 983 per cent in 2012.

By brand, Johnnie Walker whisky and Guinness performed well, with net sales up 18 per cent and 10 per cent. José Cuervo tequila fared worse, worming down 7 per cent.

The stock market took the news soberly, though. The distiller’s share price climbed less than 1 per cent to £16.92.

Diageo’s shares have been on a more intoxicating rise since 2009, though, when they scraped the bottom of the barrel at just under £7.50. The brewer’s price/earnings to growth ratio is now 1.4, suggesting the stock is modestly overvalued.

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