LONDON (AP) — Distiller Diageo PLC’s net profit rose to 1.54 billion pounds ($2.43 billion) in the six months ending on Dec. 31, up 61 percent on the same period last year, thanks to cost-cutting in Asia, strong sales in America and price hikes across its markets, the company said Thursday.
Diageo, whose brands include Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, and Guinness, said it is shifting its focus to developing markets amid continuing economy uncertainty in Europe. Diageo announced a rise in net sales of 18 percent in Latin America, 6 percent in Asia, and new staff in African areas including South Africa and Nigeria. Market gains in Turkey, Eastern Europe, and Russia weren’t enough to offset losses in Western Europe. Overall net sales in Europe fell 2 percent while performance in southern Europe was particularly weak, with a net decline of 19 percent.
‘‘This bipolarity and chronic weakness in Southern Europe is striking and endorses Diageo’s strategy of diversification into emerging markets,’’ Investec analyst Martin Deboo said in an email.
Shares in Diageo ended Thursday 0.24 percent higher at >18.77.