Blog: Chris MercerThe highs, and lows, of drinks results week

Chris Mercer | 23 July 2010

After a conveniently quiet month during the FIFA World Cup, the drinks world has swung back into life this week with a flurry (a flurry, no less) of quarterly results news. So, who's up and who's down?

Remy Cointreau was one of the first to publish results and the company could have saved us all time by releasing only two words: China, Cognac.

China's seemingly unquenchable thirst for pricey Cognac continues and has helped Remy Cointreau to surpass heights achieved even prior to the year of doom (2009). Pernod Ricard reported yesterday, too, that Asia helped to nullify downbeat consumers in Western Europe - who remain so poor and depressed that they don't even want to drink more.

Or do they? A run of Champagne figures from Remy, Laurent-Perrier and Vranken-Pommery Monopole suggests that consumers in the UK and US are reacquainting themselves with the famous French fizz.

Bargain-hunting is still the order of the day for many and consumers have found willing accomplices in the UK supermarkets - something that continues to drag on Champagne.

However, Vranken-Pommery Monopole believes that this is coming to an end. Unfortunately, the company has yet to supply volume sales figures for its half-year and so we are forced to take its word as gospel, for now.

Alongside Cognac-sipping China, comes whisky-dramming India, which has continued to propel market leader United Spirits on to greatness over the last three months. If India can just keep its economy on the rails, things are looking pretty good.

United Breweries also powered to an impressive quarter in the country, helped by brewers finally sorting a supply deal with authorities in Andhra Pradesh.

India turned positive, too, for SABMiller, which was the only global beer firm to report results this week. I was one of the last people to see SABMiller's beer business in India, as one company employee recently joked to me, but things appear to be looking up in the country at last.

However, beer business was less positive for SABMiller elsewhere as Eastern Europe, the US and poor weather in South Africa negated any volume benefits for the brewer from the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Lastly, but by no means least, comes soft drinks. PepsiCo appears to have thrown enough money and marketing nouse at Gatorade to reinvigorate sales, which must be pleasing after more than a year of decline for the sports drink brand. Still, it's early days.

The firm also said that it is getting along famously with its bottlers. Hot summer weather has also boosted PepsiCo's partner in the UK, Britvic.

The Coca-Cola Co, reporting results a day later than PepsiCo, generally brought pleasure to analysts and investors. However, CEO Muhtar Kent confusingly described himself as "cautious, yet confident". It's hard to be both of those things, but we take it to mean that things look generally better than they did.

All in all, signs of promise but the positives are very patchy. Best to keep the celebrations on ice for a little longer.


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