UPDATE 1-Pernod Ricard cautious on China, shares slide
* First half operating profit up 3 pct to 1.438 bln euros
* Keeps 2015-16 goal of 1-3 pct rise in operating profit
* Shares slide 7 percent (recasts with CEO comments, shares, analyst)
By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS, Feb 11 (Reuters) - The situation in China remains challenging for spirits company Pernod Ricard and sales in its second biggest market could fall up to 10 percent this year, the company said on Thursday.
Like rivals Remy Cointreau and Diageo, Pernod Ricard has been hurt by a government clampdown on luxury gifts and a slowing economy in China, though analysts said it appeared to be taking a more cautious line.
Pernod Chairman and CEO Alexandre Ricard told Reuters that while he remained "very confident" about long-term prospects in China the economic climate now was "not good" and later said sales this financial year could fall by 5 percent to 10 percent.
His comments contrasted with those of Remy which last month said premium cognac sales in China were recovering.
By 1135 GMT, Pernod Ricard shares were nearly 7 percent down, underperforming the European sector and touching their lowest since the start of October. Continuación...