Central European Distribution Corporation has posted a rise in both sales and profit for its fiscal 2004. The importer and distributor said today (15 March) that net sales for full year 2004 increased by 35% to US$580.7m from US$429.1m for 2003. Net income for full year 2004 increased 45% to US$21.8m, or US$1.31 per fully diluted share, from US$15.1m, or US$0.96 per fully diluted share for 2003.

In a statement, William Carey, president and CEO, said: "We are extremely satisfied with our 2004 results, in which we obtained an increase of 35% in net sales while achieving a strong return on equity of over 18%. In general, 2004 was a very solid year. More specifically, sales of our higher margin imported products increased approximately 30% over 2003 import sales after import duties dropped to zero in May as Poland joined the European Union.

"In 2005, we will continue to be committed to our long-term strategy of actively managing our growth potential, bad debt exposure and gross margins throughout the year that served us well in 2004. As previously stated, we will continue to pursue the acquisition of distilleries in Poland, whether state- or privately-owned, including Polmos Bialystok, which is currently in the process of being privatised. We have already targeted to acquire distribution companies that had combined net sales of approximately US$80m - US$100m in 2004 and look to close the first of these potential acquisitions by the first half of 2005. These potential acquisitions are not included in our 2005 guidance.

"Based on our belief that the local currency will continue to be strong versus the US Dollar, we are raising our 2005 guidance to US$680m - US$700m of net sales and US$1.54 to US$1.64 fully diluted earnings per share."