PARIS, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Pernod Ricard posted a 3 percent rise in first-half profit from recurring operations on Thursday, helped mostly by robust demand in its main U.S. market and by cost control.
The world's second-biggest spirits group behind Britain's Diageo said it still faced a tough environment in China and difficulties in South Korea in the first half, and it kept its annual profit growth outlook unchanged.
In China, where economic growth is slowing and a government clampdown on extravagant spending has hurt demand for premium spirits, sales fell 2 percent in the first half ended Dec. 31.
First-half group sales reached 4.958 billion euros ($5.60 billion), an organic rise of 3 percent, while profit from recurring operations reached 1.438 billion euros.
This compared with analysts' expectations of 4.969 billion in sales and 1.460 billion in operating profit in a Reuters poll.
The owner of Absolut vodka, Martell cognac and Jameson whiskey said it still eyed an organic rise of between 1 percent and 3 percent in profit from recurring operations for the year ending June 30, 2016. ($1 = 0.8860 euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, editing by Alister Doyle)