Shares in the French wines and spirits group, Pernod Ricard, fell by more than 6% yesterday following downgrades by analysts after the company reported below-forecast nine-month sales figures.

Yesterday morning, the company's shares had fallen by 6.26% to €98.05 after it announced that turnover to the end of September had risen by 10% to €3.644 billion, below the average forecast of €3.720 billion. The fall in share price came in spite of the fact that the group reiterated its full-year profit targets. Some analysts said they felt it unlikely that the group would meet its full-year sales target of €3.6 billion.

"Third quarter organic sales growth of 2.8% is disappointing and leaves Pernod short of full-year 2002 sales targets, despite the boost to sales from additional Seagram brands, bulk whisky and distribution of non-core brands," said Morgan Stanley's Alexandra Oldroyd.

BNP Paribas downgraded its recommendation on Pernod to "neutral" from "outperform", but kept its price target of €120. SSSB cut its rating to "in-line" from "outperform" and also retained its price target of €110. Morgan Stanley cut its rating on Pernod shares from "over-weight" to "equal-weight". However, Aurel Leven reiterated its "buy" rating on the stock.