Diageo profits boosted by Brexit and Scotch sales

Pints wait to be enjoyed at the Guinness Brewery in Dublin        
      Credit Vincent Isore  Getty Images

Menezes also said that while Smirnoff was Diageo's only "Global Giant" brand to decline in H1 - impacted by price hikes in the United States - he expects the vodka to return to growth "over the next few quarters".

The maker of Johnnie Walker and Crown Royal saw top-line sales rise 4.4% for the six months ended December 31, 2016 on volume growth of 1.8%.

In the United Kingdom the supplier - whose portfolio includes Smirnoff, Guinness, Baileys and Gordon's - increased its share in the off-trade.

"Growth in Scotch and USA spirits have driven over 50% of our organic net sales growth".

The priority for the company in this region is to focus on and strengthen these prestige and above brands, improve the route-to-consumer to ensure that its brands have great visibility, and drive out costs to invest in growth and expand margin. Baileys delivered over 100,000 samples in the period from London Cocktail Week to Christmas and over 2,000 Baileys' hot chocolates were sold in the first week of Edinburgh's Christmas market.

"McDowell's No.1 Whiskey and our Signature brand continue to see the benefit from product re-launch last fiscal year, with McDowell's No.1 up 17% this half and Signature growing 35%". This was no doubt buoyed by the brand's tribute to Leicester City's Wes Morgan, which Diageo hailed as its most successful social media campaign in Europe.

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"Tanqueray net sales grew 42% due to expanded distribution within the gin category".

"Guinness successfully lapped last year's Rugby World Cup, gaining share".

Guinness net sales were up 2 per cent supported by a solid performance of Hop House 13 Lager and Tanqueray, which grew net sales double digit in most countries across Europe.

Diageo CEO, Ivan Menezes, highlighted the company's liquor portfolio's American performance during his notes and immediately confirmed his company's long-term goals: a "consistent 4 to 6 % growth" and a 1 % profit margin improvement by the summer of 2019. Scotch growth in the territory was driven by reserve variants and Johnnie Walker Black Label, with net sales up 11 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

The unexpected increase in sales is a boost to investors.

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