The wines and spirits group, Allied Domecq, has issued an upbeat trading statement ahead of the publication of its annual results due on October 21. The company said it has recorded strong underlying growth in trading profits and that its annual earnings were in line with expectations.

Allied said its spirits and wines portfolio had delivered profitable volume growth in the financial year to August 31, 2003. The company's shares went up 3.4% on publication of what was seen by analysts as a reassuring trading statement.

The group's US business had been its strongest performer, Allied said, with growth across its core brands, while the Asia Pacific and Latin American regions had made good progress in spite of negative economic conditions and the impact of the SARS outbreak.

Allied said its progress in Europe had been held back by adverse economic conditions and soft sales in Spain but had shown some improvement in the second half.