Diageo has maintained its forecasts for growth this financial year.

At an investor conference scheduled in London for today (15 November) the drinks giant is set to state that its guidance for the year to the end of June 2006 is unchanged, with organic operating profit growth similar to last year, despite higher marketing investment and pension costs.

CFO Nick Rose said: "We are reiterating our full-year guidance although the rate of growth in the first half performance may be below our guidance for the full year.

"We continue to see good share gains in the US, even with the price increases that we have put through there. The terrible hurricanes in the US have had an impact on our performance in the south-eastern states.

"It is too early to tell whether this will impact full year performance or whether the impact will be limited to the first half and we will benefit in the second half from restocking."

Rose added: "In Europe, we are seeing continued weakness in RTDs and in Guinness and, while we have plans in place to address these trends, any benefit is not expected to be seen until later in the financial year. In Diageo International, Latin America remains buoyant.

At the time of its full-year results in September, Diageo had identified Taiwan, South Korea and Nigeria as markets where the company was under-performing and Rose said the company had begun taking action.

"In Taiwan, a series of actions including management changes and a renewed focus on Johnnie Walker means that Johnnie Walker has overtaken its most significant competitor and is again the leading Scotch whisky brand there.

"In Korea, the new management team is also making good progress," he added. "Focus on Windsor (Scotch whisky) has returned the brand to growth and we will now begin a similar program on Dimple (also Scotch).

"In Nigeria, volumes are still down year on year, but this is in line with our expectations at this stage. Guinness Extra Smooth and Harp are doing well and Guinness Malta is benefiting from improvement in its regional distribution.

Rose said Diageo was "on track" to meet its cost-savings targets but added that the high price of oil was hitting input costs. "Our relatively high operating margin does mitigate the impact of the current high oil price but it will increase our cost base by around GBP20m (US$34.7m) in the current year.

"With the exception of Guinness our global priority brands, particularly Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Captain Morgan, continue to grow strongly."