French spirits maker Pernod Ricard returns to growth; Asia comeback despite China slowdown

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PARIS — Pernod Ricard SA, maker of Absolut vodka and Martell cognac, has returned to growth after Asian, Middle Eastern and African markets stemmed a monthslong slide, but sales in China continued to decline steeply.

The company on Thursday reported 2.04 billion euros ($2.58 billion) in sales for its July-September first quarter, up 2 percent. Sales dropped 9 percent in China, the biggest of the Asian markets. Europe, where a weak economy weighs heavily, saw sales decline 1 percent.

The company said Scotch whiskies rebounded sharply, with sales up 9 percent for brands including Chivas, Ballantine's and Glenlivet, while wine sales fell, notably with the Jacob's Creek label. It predicted growth between 1 and 3 percent for the fiscal year.

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