* Q1 sales 2.72 bln euros, up 20% like-for-like vs 15.7%
* China sales up 22%, U.S. sales up 9%, Europe sales up 22%
* Expects good sales growth through year though moderating
PARIS, Oct 21 (Reuters) - French spirits maker Pernod Ricard
said solid sales growth could moderate in the 2022
fiscal year, after strong demand in China, the United States,
India and Europe helped it post above-forecast sales in the
Pernod - which owns Martell cognac, Mumm champagne and
Absolut vodka - reported a 20% rise in like-for-like sales to
2.718 billion euros ($3.17 billion) in the three months to Sept.
30, above market expectations for a 15.7% rise.
The world's second-biggest spirits group said consumption by
people staying at home remained resilient, while the reopening
of bars and restaurants as coronavirus restrictions eased also
helped, notably in Europe.
Travel retail was still subdued although the company
benefited in the quarter from a low comparison base.
Pernod Ricard's fiscal year started on July 1.
When asked if he was comfortable with average analyst
expectations of 9.7% sales growth for the full year, Chairman
and Chief Executive Officer Alexandre Ricard told Reuters "we
give a qualitative guidance".
"We are confident but we need to go through Christmas and
the Chinese New Year (to have more visibility)," he said.
Pernod expected "good sales growth to continue through the
year", he said, adding that the first quarter had benefited from
a low comparison base a year ago, when pandemic curbs had hit
businesses in many countries.
That comparison base would progressively become less
favourable as the year progressed, Ricard added.
"The comparison basis will get more complicated, the longer
we go on."
Despite strong sales, Pernod shares were off 1.1% at 196.60
euros by 0819 GMT.
"There is no change to the outlook, and although the beat is
significant, it is only one quarter so we think consensus
upgrades will probably be minor at this stage," wrote Investec
analysts in a note.
Credit Suisse analysts pointed out that "significant
investment in Advertising and Promotion(A&P) and structure costs
should temper margin expectations," for the year.
GOOD MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL IN CHINA
The strong start to the year reflected a 9% sales jump in
the United States, Pernod Ricard's top market, with good
replenishment ahead of the festive season and a rebound in
demand for Jameson Irish whiskey as bars and restaurants
reopened after COVID restrictions were eased.
Supply chain concerns ranging from difficulties to find
containers or truck drivers led some clients in the United
States to stock up ahead of the holiday season, Ricard said.
In China, sales jumped 22%, driven by demand during the
Mid-Autumn Festival and Martell cognac price hikes.
"The Mid-Autumn Festival went well and our inventory level
is healthy," Ricard said.
Europe also had a strong start, with sales rising 22% as
consumers headed to bars and restaurants amid easing COVID
"People are keen to connect socially and resume (pre-COVID)
lifestyles," Pernod's finance chief Helene de Tissot told
China contributes around 9% to Pernod's sales and is its
Global travel retail sales rose 55% year-on-year, returning
to growth in all regions and benefiting from a very favourable
($1 = 0.8583 euros)
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; additional reporting by
Laetitia Volga in Paris, Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, Christopher
Cushing and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)