Investors uncertain despite Q4 resurgence

Investors uncertain despite Q4 resurgence

Laurent-Perrier has said it is upbeat on the year ahead after a late surge in Champagne sales took the edge off a disappointing fiscal full-year for the group.

An 18% rise in Champagne sales in the three months to the end of March, to EUR31.2m (US$34.8m), helped to blunt sales declines of 25% and 21% in the first and second quarters of the year respectively, Laurent-Perrier said today (1 June).

Total net sales for the year to the end of March fell by 5%, to EUR171.8m from EUR181.3m in the previous year.

Despite a pick-up in the fourth quarter, Laurent-Perrier's share price fell by almost 5% in early trading on the Paris Stock Exchange, reflecting ongoing uncertainty over global demand for Champagne in 2010. The quarter from January to the end of March is generally the least significant for the Champagne houses in terms of sales and profits.

Laurent-Perrier said full-year operating profits fell by 34% to EUR28.7m, partly due to pricing pressure in key export markets. Operating profits rose by 1% in the second half of the year.

Net profits slipped by 44% for the year, to EUR10.6m, as an 84.5% drop in the first half of the year overshadowed a 13.5% rise in the second half.

The group said it was confident of continued recovery over the next 12 months and that the Laurent-Perrier brand was well-placed to profit "emerging growth opportunities".  

The firm highlighted a return to positive cashflow in the second half, to EUR19m from -EUR12.9m a year earlier. However, full-year cashflow remained negative, at -EUR25m compared to -EUR62m a year earlier.

Michel Boulaire was today confirmed as the group's new chairman, replacing Stephane Tsassis.