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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Diageo net profits rise despite some problems in western Europe, China, Nigeria

LONDON - Drinks company Diageo PLC says net profit rose to 1.6 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) for the six months ending on Dec. 31, up from 1.5 billion pounds in the same period a year earlier despite a slight drop in sales.

Diageo, whose brands include Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, and Guinness, said Thursday that its net sales were down nearly 1 per cent to 5.9 billion pounds. Sales were up 4.6 per cent in North America and 1.3 per cent in emerging markets despite weakness in China and Nigeria, but down 1 per cent in western Europe.

Diageo shares were down 6.1 per cent at 1,793 pence in midmorning trading in London.

Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said Diageo remains a "core long term investment" despite emerging market problems.

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