Diageo plc. announced its half year results for the six months ended 31 December 2010 on Thursday. The company reports organic net sales growth of 4%. Stronger volume growth and improved price/mix was delivered in North America; continued momentum in International again led to double digit top line growth in the region and top line growth improved in Asia Pacific. Europe’s performance was weaker given the challenging economic conditions. At a group level, top line growth delivered gross margin improvement. Investment to drive growth continued with organic marketing spend up 10% and increased overhead investment, particularly in Latin America. Organic operating profit grew 2%. Returns increased with continued strong free cash flow of ?775 million, the company said.
Paul Walsh, Chief Executive of Diageo, commenting on the six months ended 31 December 2010 said:
“Momentum is building in our business. Our top line performance was stronger and price/mix improved. We have increased marketing spend significantly, up 10%, but in a very focused way. 35% of the increase was behind strategic brands in US spirits to build the brand equity as we move away from promotional support and over 60% of the increase was on our brands in the faster growing emerging markets. Despite the economic weakness in much of Europe, our first half performance gives me increased confidence that we will improve on the organic operating profit growth we delivered in fiscal 2010”.
There was double digit net sales growth and positive price/mix in Africa led by Harp in Nigeria, Tusker in East Africa and Windhoek in South Africa. Ireland was the key driver of the 4% net sales decline of beer in Europe, as Guinness declined due to weakness in the on trade, particularly in rural areas. In Asia Pacific beer net sales grew 6% following a successful “Arthur?s Day” programme on Guinness and increased on trade activity in Malaysia. Two percentage points of positive price/mix on beer was driven by price increases taken across Africa and in Great Britain.
Overall performance was negatively impacted by a sharp net sales decline in Ireland, where the economic conditions accelerated the shift to the off trade. In Great Britain, performance also declined, partly due to consumers? preference for lager during the 2010 Football World Cup. In Africa, the brand continued to sell at a price premium to local lagers, and Cameroon and East Africa drove growth in volume and net sales. Marketing spend was concentrated behind the second global “Arthur?s Day”.
Volume movement beer:
North America: (1%)
Asia Pacific: 2%