The French wines and spirits group Pernod Ricard today unveiled 2003 group net profit of €464m, up 12.3% on the year before.

Wine and spirit operating profits reached €737m. The result was hit by a negative currency impact of €83m, but at a constant exchange increased 15.5%.

Wine and spirits sales amounted to €3.4 billion, reflecting a significant negative currency effect (- 8.3%) but organic growth of 8.1%, which arose from good results achieved by most brands, both global and local, throughout the world.

A statement said that the board of directors of Pernod Ricard will propose to the Annual Shareholders Meeting of 17 May 2004 a cash dividend per share of € 1.96, up 8.9% over the previous year.

Patrick Ricard, chairman and chief executive officer said: "I am very satisfied with the Group's 2003 fiscal year results, and particularly the strong growth in our Wine & Spirits business profitability".

He added : "Our portfolio of premium brands and our presence in high growth markets support our confident view of the future." The Group anticipates that therefore it will enjoy during 2004, a growth in operating profit on a constant exchange rate basis.