Diageo’s credit quality ‘stronger’ than Pernod Ricard’s, says Moody’s

Credit rating agency Moody’s said in a report published on Monday that Diageo has a “stronger credit quality” than its rival Pernod Ricard.

Moody’s based its decision on Diageo’s lower leverage, larger size and market share, which it says supports stronger credit quality and a higher rating than its French rival Pernod Ricard.

The rating agency currently assigned Diageo as an A3 business, an upper medium investment grade rating, while Pernod Ricard carries a Baa2, a lower medium investment grade.

Diageo’s organic profit growth benefits from strong U.S. momentum, while Pernod’s growth remains constrained by China,” says Paolo Leschiutta, a Moody’s Vice President and author of the report.

Pernod will be able to partially compensate for the soft trading conditions in China with strong growth in India, but this market has lower profitability than the group average. As a result, Moody’s expects low single-digit organic profit growth for Pernod, whereas Diageo’s organic profit will grow in line with the broader industry range of 4%-5%,” adds the report.

The author notes that Diageo’s larger size and market share supports its stronger business profile, but Pernod Ricard benefits from a higher contribution from premium products. In the future, both companies will benefit from strong demand for Western brown spirits (whiskies, bourbons, brandy, cognac); however, Pernod stands to gain the most because brown spirits constitute a greater share of its revenues and volumes than Diageo and because of its established presence in the cognac business.

The report concludes by saying that Diageo is slightly more exposed to the uncertainties related to Brexit because a large share of its revenue is derived from emerging markets which have trade agreements with the EU. The UK’s post-Brexit trading agreements will affect both Diageo and Pernod Ricard because of the importance of their respective Scotch whiskey businesses.

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