March 28, 2019 / 2:45 PM / a year ago

China liquor maker Moutai posts 30 pct rise in 2018 net profit on solid demand

BEIJING, March 28 (Reuters) - Chinese luxury liquor maker Kweichow Moutai Co posted a 30 percent rise in its 2018 profit thanks to solid demand for the country’s most reputable premium spirit.

The world’s largest listed alcohol firm with market capitalisation posted 35.2 billion yuan ($5.22 billion) in full-year net profit for 2018, up from 27.08 billion yuan from a year earlier.

The result marks a second consecutive double-digit annual profit growth after years of stymied expansion due to a crackdown on corruption and luxury spending under China’s President Xi Jinping since 2013.

Revenue rose 26.5 percent to 73.6 billion yuan, Moutai said in the filing to the Shanghai stock exchange.

Strong profit and revenue growth has propelled shares of Moutai 34 percent higher this year to record levels, valuing the firm at about $147 billion, ahead of Smirnoff vodka and Guinness owner Diageo.

But China’s slowing economy is raising concerns about the luxury market and growth prospects for Moutai, a bellwether for the country’s big spenders.

Moutai, which sells its fiery Feitian 53 baijiu for close to $250 per bottle, flagged in December that sales growth would moderate to 14 percent in 2019.

The company’s liquor is often a lubricant for official Chinese banquets and business dinners. The burgeoning middle class is also gaining an appetite for more expensive drinks.

The brand has close ties with Chinese politics and culture, drawing on its long history as the national liquor of choice and once hailed as helping China’s Red Army survive the tortuous Long March in the 1930s.

$1 = 6.7388 Chinese yuan renminbi Reporting by Pei Li and Brenda Goh Editing by Edmund Blair

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