UPDATE 2-Campari cuts profit margin forecast on expansion costs
* Costs for new initiatives in U.S., Spain hit margins
* Comparable sales up 3.8 pct in first half before forex
* Italy, Latin America perform strongly in first half
* Shares hand back early gains to trade down 1 percent (Recasts with margin forecast, company comments, updates shares)
By Agnieszka Flak and Valentina Za
MILAN, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Italian drinks group Campari cut its full-year profit margin forecast on Tuesday, blaming the cost of its expansion plans in the United States and Spain and overshadowing a pick up in underlying sales in the second quarter.
The maker of the eponymous bitter red aperitif said on Tuesday it was now aiming to achieve a flat gross profit margin this year.
"We had initially indicated an increase of 70 basis points in the gross margin as a percentage of sales, which we won't be able to achieve," Chief Financial Officer Paolo Marchesini told analysts, blaming cost overlaps linked to new production and distribution initiatives in the United States and Spain.
Full-year operating profit at the maker of the bright orange Aperol aperitif, previously expected to be flat as a share of sales, is now seen down by 70 basis points compared with the 2013 level. Continuación...