Corby Distilleries has posted a lift in both sales and profits for its first half.

The Canada-based company, which offloaded the Tia Maria liqueur brand to Pernod Ricard a year earlier, said yesterday (13 February) that net profit for the six months to the end of December came in at C$19.9m (US$19.9m), against C$90.6m in the corresponding quarter a year earlier. The high profits a  year ago were boosted by the Tia Maria sale, which brought in a C$72.6m gain.

Stripping out the divestment, Corby saw its EBITDA increase by 16%.

Sales in the six-month period came in at C$90.7m, against C$80.2m in 2006-2007, while operating profit climbed to C$28.1m versus C$25.1m.

For the second quarter, net profit was up by 21% to C$10.5m, driven by "a solid performance" from the company's portfolio of owned brands. Sales were up in value terms to C$48.8m, while volume growth was 6% in the quarter, with average selling prices increasing and product mix improving.

"The company's focus on value creation through the premiumisation of its key brands has permitted strategic price increases in line with targeted competitive sets," said company CEO Con Constandis.

"The impressive results we posted for both the second quarter and the first half of fiscal 2008 are clear validation that our new strategic focus is delivering exceptional value for our shareholders."

Corby also declared a dividend payment of C$0.14 per share yesterday. The payment will be made on 14 March to shareholders of record on 29 February.