The Italian drinks company Campari said yesterday that it had recorded growth in sales and at all levels of operating profitability, in the forst nine months of the year.

Consolidated net sales grew 7.7% to €544.7m, leading to EBITDA of €127.4m, up 7.4%.

However, group profit before taxes fell to €70.5m, down solely as a result of the significant drop in extraordinary income, Campari said.

"Growth in sales and at all levels of operating profitability continued, thanks to the consolidation of the newly-acquired Barbero 1891 S.p.A. and to a good performance from the Group's existing business, despite the ongoing impact of negative exchange rate movements," a statement said.
 
The company added that if sales and main profitability indicators were considered before the impact of exchange rates, they would show double-digit growth versus the same period of last year.
 
Profit before taxes and minority interests was €81.7m, a fall of 28.4%. This was due entirely to the significant drop in extraordinary income, which last year included the capital gain resulting from the sale of the building in Via Filippo Turati, Milan, for €33.7m, in July 2003.

The spirits segment, which accounted for 64.7% of total sales, recorded growth of 9.1%, determined by organic growth of 2.7%, external growth of 10.5% and a negative exchange rate effect of 4.2%.

The Campari brand posted growth of 5.1% at constant exchange rates (3.3% at actual exchange rates), with a positive performance in Brazil, Italy, Japan and other important European markets more than offsetting the contraction of sales in Germany, where particularly adverse weather conditions led to a sharp fall in consumption.

Sales of SKYY Vodka rose by 4.0% at constant exchange rates. The SKYY flavoured vodka range, which accounted for 15% of total SKYY brand sales, fell by 7.2% at constant exchange rates, owing to an unfavourable comparison base with the same period last year (several new line-extensions were launched in the second quarter of 2003, causing sales to jump).

Overall, SKYY brand sales, including the flavoured range, rose by 2.1% at constant exchange rates (-7.1% at actual exchange rates).

The wines segment (13.5% of total sales) posted growth of 24.8%. Organic growth (+16.3%) was boosted by a positive performance from all main brands: Cinzano sparkling wines saw growth of +7.3% at constant exchange rates, thanks to a good performance in Italy and other important markets. Cinzano vermouth posted growth of +14.1% at constant exchange rates, thanks to a positive trend on the main European markets and in Japan.

Soft drinks (20.4% of total sales, almost entirely on the Italian market) saw their sales fall by 5.9%.