Absolut Vodka experienced "modest" sales declines in the US, during Pernod Ricards first quarter

Absolut Vodka experienced "modest" sales declines in the US, during Pernod Ricard's first quarter

At the start of September, just after Pernod Ricard reported its full-year results, analysts described the group's progress as "slow but steady". This week's first-quarter sales update prompted similar sentiment, with praise coming in the form of "broad-based resilience" and "pretty solid results". The company reported a 1% rise in reported sales, with the Americas and Europe doing the lifting.

Within the Americas, it was once again the US that proved a trusty workhorse. The group posted a 5% organic sales lift in the country, a performance that Societe Generale analyst Laurence Whyatt notes was "just below the spirits sector rate of 5.6%" in the market.  Whyatt reiterates a 'buy' rating, based in part on Pernod's "superior US brand portfolio of fast-growing, high-value spirits".

Delving deeper into the US market, it was business as usual for Irish whiskey mega-brand Jameson - Bernstein's Trevor Stirling says the product is still in double-digit growth "with premium innovations coming through". Last month, Pernod said it would expand Jameson's Caskmates Drinking Buddies programme to include seven US craft breweries.

Meanwhile, the company described Absolut's latest sales declines as "modest", with Bryan, Garnier & Co analyst Virginie Roumage putting them at 1% to 2%, "consistent with the 2015/16 trend". However, the analyst forsees improvements for the Swedish vodka, as Pernod looks to "stabilise the brand in the medium term," as well as "step up investment... and reduce the number of flavours".

Whyatt also has faith in the vodka brand, reiterating his belief that it "has the credentials to appeal to the Millennial consumer".

Barclays analyst Simon Hales is equally optimistic, suggesting that there is "room for upgrades [for Pernod's stock], if Absolut turns the corner and Jameson sales growth continues above 20%".

Couple this with further hope that the trade embargo between the US and Cuba will be lifted - and Havana Club (or Havanista, as it will likely be known) can cross the water to Florida - and "slow but steady" might just pick up pace.

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