Lex: Diageo

Diageo, the owner of Johnnie Walker whisky and Smirnoff vodka, continues to suffer from low consumer confidence in north America and Europe. Pre-tax profits at the global drinks business fell from £1.41bn to £1.39bn in the first half, which ended December 31, lower than analysts' expectations. Net sales rose 3 per cent but fell 2 per cent on a constant currency basis. Sales of all the company's "global priority" brands apart from Guinness fell. Neil Buckley analyses the drinkmaker's "premiumisation" strategy during the downturn.