Campari, the drinks group which owns the eponymous bitter apperitif, has reported a 54% increase in nine-month core earnings (EBITDA) and a 32% rise in sales boosted by new acquisitions, such as Skyy Spirits.

Earnings before interest tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) reached €111.7m (US$113.1m), while operating profit (EBIT) came in 47.2% above the same figure last year at €79.4m.

Sales for the group were €457.3m, boosted by revenues from the sales of spirits. Revenues from the group's core business, accounting for 63% of turnover, leapt close to 50% to €288.4m.

"The first nine months of 2002 closed with strongly growing results and with a significant improvement in all margins, thanks mostly to the positive effect of the consolidation of the newly acquired companies Skyy Spirits, LLC, Zedda Piras SpA and Sella & Mosca SpA," Campari said in a statement.

At the end of last year, Campari acquired a 50% share in the producer of premium vodka SKYY, Skyy Spirits. The move was followed in January I by the acquisition of Italian spirits company Zedda Piras.