(recasts to adds CEO comments, share reaction, details)
By Francesca Landini and Maria Pia Quaglia
MILAN, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Italy’s Campari, the world’s sixth-largest premium spirits maker, reported weaker-than-expected nine-month sales after a sluggish performance at home and falling consumption in emerging markets such as Russia.
The company, whose brands include the red and orange aperitifs Camparisoda and Crodino, faced competition from newly popular beverages such as handcrafted beers. It reported a slight fall in its sales in Italy, despite a long hot summer that would usually lift demand.
Chief Executive Bob Kunze-Concewitz told analysts in a conference call that a lack of new products and marketing initiatives had weighed on its sales at home, a market in decline and which Campari depends upon for a quarter of its revenue.
“Italy recorded slightly negative sales because single-serve aperitifs did not go well,” he said.
Shares in the Milan-based group, which reached an all-time-high of 8.18 euros just before the results, were up 0.6 percent at 8 euros by 1543 GMT.
The maker of the red aperitif said on Wednesday that total turnover rose 7.9 percent to 1.14 billion euros ($1.23 billion) in the first nine months, with a large part of the increase due to positive currency effects.
In the three months through September, like-for-like sales excluding forex effects rose 2 percent, half the rate expected by analysts.
Shrinking revenues in Russia and Brazil also weighed on results and mitigated higher sales in the United States.
In Russia, Campari’s sales fell 53 percent in the first nine months partly due to tight credit controls the company had to put in place given that the country is still subject to EU sanctions over its role in the Ukraine crisis.
Other spirits groups, such as Pernod Richard, have been suffering in emerging markets too.
Campari said earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) excluding one-off items increased 14 percent to 221 million euros, with a margin on sales improving to 19.3 percent from 18.3 percent in the same nine-month period last year.
The operating profit margin is closely watched by analysts and Campari’s management has promised to boost it this year after it weakened in 2014.
“We expect the improvement in operating margins achieved in the first nine months 2015 to continue for the remainder of the year,” Kunze-Concewitz said in a statement.
$1 = 0.9306 euros Reporting by Francesca Landini and Maria Pia Quaglia; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle