UPDATE 2-Diageo earnings fall on weakness in emerging markets
* FY EPS 95.5p/share pre-exceptionals vs f'cast around 97.7p
* Net sales down 9 pct at 10.3 bln stg vs f'cast 10.5 bln
* Sees emerging mkts improving, but never returning to past levels (Adds analyst comments, background, byline)
By Martinne Geller
LONDON, July 31 (Reuters) - Diageo, the world's largest spirits maker by sales, posted weaker-than-expected earnings on Thursday, hurt by a slowdown in China and volatility in other emerging markets.
Over the past year, the maker of Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky, Smirnoff vodka and Guinness stout has grappled with a host of issues in emerging markets - including currency devaluations, a tax increase on a beer in Kenya and a steep fall in sales of Chinese baiju spirit due to government-enforced austerity measures.
Diageo took an asset impairment charge, worth about 79 million pounds on a net basis, on the value of its nearly 40 percent stake in baiju maker Sichuan Shuijingfang, it said on Thursday. The high-end fiery white spirit brand, once popular at lavish government banquets, saw sales fall 78 percent last year.
The writedown reduced Diageo's 2014 earnings per share by 3.2 pence.
Diageo reported earnings of 95.5 pence per share before one-time items for the full year ended June 30, down from 103.1p a year before and below analysts' forecasts around 97.7p. Continuación...