By Milla Nissi
(Reuters) -Remy Cointreau forecast on Tuesday an "excellent" first half after it more than doubled its organic sales in the first three months of the fiscal year as bars and restaurants reopened from lockdowns in Europe and the United States.
Yet even as it handily beat sales estimates, its shares fell as much as 2.6% in early trade with investors disappointed the maker of Remy Martin cognac stuck with full-year outlook of "mid-teens" organic sales growth.
"We would highlight that a strong first quarter was anticipated given easy comparatives and shipment phasing," Jefferies analyst Edward Mundy said in a note, describing the unchanged outlook as "conservative".
Remy Cointreau, which last year bore the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis alongside other premium spirits makers, said sales in the quarter ended June 30 were boosted by Europe's and the United States' reopening as well as continued strong demand in China and buoyant at home consumption.
Finance chief Luca Marotta told analysts he still wanted to stay "prudent" about the second quarter performance, which would depend on the European summer season and the effects of the highly contagious Delta variant of the novel coronavirus.
Marotta said the fiscal year started April 1 would be a "year of two halves", with growth expected to slow down in the second half once customers finish replenishing their inventories.
The Paris-based group, which also makes champagnes and scotch, reported first-quarter organic sales more than doubled to 293.1 million euros ($345.48 million), beating market expectations of a 68% rise and exceeding pre-pandemic levels in the same period two years ago.
Remy Cointreau, whose upscale spirits can cost thousands of dollars per bottle with custom engravings, said its cognac division saw organic sales rise 114%, against consensus of 86%, making up more than two thirds of group sales in the quarter.
($1 = 0.8484 euros)
(Reporting by Milla Nissi and Federico Maccioni; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Vinay Dwivedi and Tomasz Janowski)