LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has posted flat full-year profits, on the back of a slight rise in sales.

The group, whose wine & spirits unit boasts Glenmorangie, Moët & Chandon Champagne and Hennessy Cognac in its portfolio, said yesterday (5 February) that net profit in 2008 held firm at EUR2.02bn (US$2.58bn). Group sales inched up by 4% on 2007, hitting EUR17.19bn.

Profit from recurring options rose by 2% to EUR3.63bn, LVMH said. The company noted, however, that the negative exchange rate impact was again high this year, particularly in the first half.

While profit from recurring operations at LVMH's wines & spirits unit were flat in the year, up by 0.2% to EUR1.06bn, reported sales slid by 3% in 2008 to EUR3.13bn.

The company credited its policy of price increases and the high-end positioning of its brands for the steady results. In geographical terms, overall trends were "positive" in Europe but demand was described as "less dynamic" in the US and Japan due to market conditions. Emerging markets, such as China, Russia and the Middle East, recorded high growth.

"The 2008 results demonstrate the exceptional reactivity of our organisation in this period of economic crisis," said company chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault. "The group has always emerged stronger from previous economic downturns thanks to the dynamic innovation of its brands, the quality of its products and the effectiveness of its teams.

"LVMH approaches the challenges and the opportunities of 2009 with confidence and determination and has set the objective of increasing its leadership position in the worldwide luxury goods sector."

At LVMH's AGM in May, the company will propose a dividend of EUR1.60 per share. An interim dividend of EUR0.35 per share was distributed on 2 December, with the balance of EUR1.25 set to be paid on 25 May.