Codorniu has blamed last Christmas' cava boycotts for a 70% profit plunge in its 2005 fiscal year.

However, the Spanish company said today (15 December) that exports in the year to 30 June rose 17% to EUR62.5m (US$74.6m), boosting profits for its international division.

Codorniu's net profits fell 70% to EUR3.7m on sales up 1.2% to EUR208.5m. The company said that a EUR5m extraordinary gain from a real-estate transaction had boosted its 2004 fiscal profits, worsening this year's profit fall.

"Obviously the cava boycott affected us and the sales environment was more difficult than previous years," Codorniu's new general manager Xavier Pages told a press briefing.

Asked about the industry's growing worries that this year's boycott will worsen, he said: "It is difficult to detail this year's sales but they look similar to last year."

Spanish cava makers suffered from last year's boycotts, triggered by rising anti-Catalan sentiment throughout Spain.

In a glimmer of hope for the company, Codorniu said that its international outlook is set to improve from rising demand for its spirit exports.

Last year, UK sales rose to a reported EUR160,000 while the company narrowed its losses by half in the US.

German losses fell to EUR244,000 from EUR2.6m the prior year.

Sales are increasing in almost all the international markets and the US, Japan, Mexico and Brazil show great promise, Pages said.