Diageo to return another £4.5bn to shareholders

Scotch whisky giant Diageo said on Thursday it approved plans to return up to £4.5 billion to shareholders over financial years 2020-2022.

For the year ended June 30, 2019, Diageo said reported net sales rose 5.8% to £12.9 billion and reported operating profit increased 9.5% to £4 billion.

Diageo, the world’s largest spirits company, said pre-exceptional earnings grew 10.3% to 130.8p per share.

Scotch Whisky, which makes up about a quarter of Diageo’s net sales, was up 6%. 

Diageo said Scotch growth was driven by Johnnie Walker, helped by the launch of “White Walker by Johnnie Walker” inspired by “Game of Thrones.”

Meanwhile, Diageo is also facing potential labour problems in Scotland after talks over pay between the company and two of its biggest Scottish unions fell apart on Wednesday.

Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes said: “Diageo has delivered another year of strong performance.

“Organic volume and net sales growth was broad based across regions and categories, with new product innovation being a strong contributor.

“We expanded organic operating margin ahead of our guidance and increased investment behind our brands ahead of organic net sales growth.

“Fiscal 19 has been another year of strong free cash flow delivery at £2.6 billion and we have returned £2.8 billion to shareholders via share buybacks.

“The board has approved plans for an additional return to shareholders of up to £4.5 billion over Fiscal 20 to Fiscal 22.

“Our focus on quality sustainable growth is backed by a culture of everyday efficiency that enables us to invest smartly in marketing and growth initiatives while expanding margins.

“These results reflect the steady progress we are making and as we look ahead we see attractive opportunities to deliver consistent growth and create shareholder value.

“In the medium term I expect Diageo to maintain organic net sales growth in the mid-single digit range and to grow organic operating profit ahead of net sales in the range of 5%-7%.”

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.