Diageo boosted by emerging markets

Diageo, the drinks group behind brands such as Guinness, Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker has reported a 5% rise in annual profits.

Guinness is among Diageo's most famous brands

Pre-tax profits for the year to the end of June came in at £2.36bn, as growth in emerging markets and North America made up for problems in Europe.

Sales fell sharply in Greece and Spain, with Irish sales also down.

The full year profit growth was weaker than the 15% rise reported for the first six months of the year.

Diageo has been busy buying up brands around the world and announced on Wednesday that it had completed the acquisition of Mey Icki in Turkey.

Chief executive Paul Walsh warned that Diageo was “not immune from a fragile global economy”, although the firm’s results were stronger than rival drinks firm Heineken, which warned on Wednesday that its profits growth in 2011 would be wiped out by weak consumer sentiment and poor weather.

Analysts suggested that sales of spirits tended to be less weather-dependent than beer, and had grown more strongly in emerging markets.

Mr Walsh told BBC News that he was confident the company could still find areas of growth if there was another global recession.

“We’re going to see a relatively low growth period for the developed markets, however within those markets there will be growth opportunities,” he said.

“As these numbers demonstrate, we are able to seize those opportunities, not least because of our very strong brands and also our very strong presence in scotch whisky.”

Diageo said it planned to increase its full year dividend by 6% to 40.4 pence per share.

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