UPDATE 1-Remy keeps goals, Q3 cognac sales beat expectations
* Q3 sales 269.1 mln euros, down 1 pct l-f-l
* Q3 cognac sales up 0.4 pct vs -11.8 pct in Q2
* Eyes growth in full year organic sales, operating profit (Adds details)
By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Remy Cointreau on Thursday reported third quarter cognac sales well ahead of forecasts, driven by robust demand for premium qualities in the United States while shipments to China improved on weak year-ago comparables.
The French spirits group, whose premium cognac is suffering from a Chinese government crackdown on ostentatious spending, kept its target of delivering organic growth in full year sales and current operating profit for the year to end-March 31.
The maker of Remy Martin cognac, Cointreau liqueur and Mount Gay Rum said group sales reached 269.1 million euros ($311.73 million) in the three months to Dec 31, for an organic decline of 1 percent, compared with a fall of 5.5 percent in the second quarter.
Cognac sales, which account for more than half the company's revenue, rose 0.4 percent year-on-year in the quarter, a marked improvement from an 11.8 percent fall in the second quarter and a 15.3 percent decline in the first quarter.
The cognac figures were well above analysts' expectations of a 5-6 percent organic decline for the quarter. Suite...