July 28, 2020 / 9:30 AM / 13 days ago

Campari first half sales down 11% as Italians drink fewer aperitifs

FILE PHOTO: Campari bottles are seen in a bar downtown Milan, Italy, September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

MILAN (Reuters) - Sales at drinks group Campari (CPRI.MI) fell 11.3% on an like-for-like basis in the first half as the coronavirus crisis hit southern Europe and its home market in Italy, although the stock was lifted by better-than-expected results elsewhere.

In Italy, the high-margin aperitifs brands registered a strong negative performance in the the peak season of April and June, due to the lockdown that shut restaurants and bars.

“This was only partly mitigated by a gradual recovery in late June as consumers began to return to bars with outdoor spaces,” the maker of the red aperitif Campari said on Tuesday.

Spirits consumption in North, Central and Eastern Europe, however, rose on a like-for-like basis and sales in the United States were less negative than expected, boosting the stock.

Shares in Campari rose 4% by 0950 GMT to 8.45 euros, as investors were encouraged by the group’s performance outside Italy.

Like-for-like sales, which strip out currency swings and any acquisitions or sales of assets, came in at 769 million euros ($900 million) in the first half, with aperitif brands particularly penalised.

Sales of Campari’s orange aperitif Aperol fell 11.6%, while Campari was down 10.6% year-on-year in the first half.

Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) excluding one-off items fell 31% to 130.4 million euros. EBIT margin on sales, an indicator for profitability, came in at 17% down from 21.3% in the same period last year.

Chief Executive Bob Kunze-Concewitz said the group would continue a long term strategy looking at possible acquisitions, focusing on boosting online sales through platforms like its newly acquired e-commerce Tannico and reinforcing the strength of its own brands.

Reporting by Francesca Landini; editing by James Mackenzie and Louise Heavens

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