Maker of Absolut vodka Pernod Ricard sees profit slide as Chinese drinkers' tastes shift

Pernod Ricard says profit from its whiskies, cognacs and other spirits slid 5 percent in the first half of its financial year as Chinese consumers drank less off the top shelf and traded down to less pricey brands.

The French distiller behind Absolut vodka and Jameson Irish whiskey posted net profit of 788 million euros ($892 million) for the July-December period, down from 828 million euros a year earlier.

In a statement Thursday, new Chief Executive Alexandre Ricard, grandson of group founder Paul Ricard, forecast a gradual rebound in sales and confirmed a target of recurring earnings growth between one and three percent in the full year. Earnings by this measure were flat at 1.36 billion euros in the first six months.