The French spirits group, Pernod Ricard, has reported net profit for 2002 of €413m (US$436.7m), up 15% from 2001 and ahead of analysts' forecasts. The results for 2002 were boosted by the addition of brands acquired from Seagram. Operating profit rose by 67% to €750m on sales 6.1% higher at €4.8 billion.

The group's wine & spirits division generated sales of €3.4 billion in 2002, up 78%, the company reported. Some €1.4 billion of this total was attributable to Seagram brands, Pernod said, while €2 billion came from the company's existing brands, representing organic growth 4.5%.

Organic growth in operating profit from wines and spirits stood at 7.5%. Overall, wines and spirits operating profit rose by 106% to €710m, against analysts' forecasts for around €695m.

Pernod said the operating margin of the wines and spirits division reached 20.8%, higher than the target figure announced in early-2002, which it believes is a reflection of the successful integration of the Seagram businesses.

"The group's remarkable performance in 2002 fully confirms the logic of the strategy initiated with the acquisition of Seagram's brands," said Pernod's chairman, Patrick Ricard. "We look forward with confidence to the growth of the business and indeed 2003 has started strongly, but in the uncertain geopolitical and economic situation, we will reserve guidance on performance to the shareholders’ meeting”.

The company had previously announced a rise in turnover of 6.1% to €4.835 billion. The 2002 results were ahead of analysts' forecasts which had been for net profit of around €384m and operating profit of €730m.