Despite reporting a £67 million ($121m; €98m) fall in annual profits, Diageo chief executive Paul Walsh hailed the result as "a year of rich achievement" - prompting one onlooker to observe: "God forbid they ever have a middling year."

Nonetheless, the globe's largest booze behemoth comfortably bettered analysts profit predictions of £1.956 billion by delivering a whopping surplus of £2.003bn for the twelve months ended June 30.

It seems the "rich achievement" was but a temporary blip on Diageo's upward curve, with the company predicting that price hikes and cost-cutting will generate a surge in growth during the 2005-06 fiscal .

Walsh expects 2006 volume growth to again be 3%, while net sales after deducting excise duties should show a rise of 4%. Better pricing and a stabilising trend in ready-to-drink brands should give Diageo the impetus to improve on post-excise duty net sales.

"We believe operating profit growth can be similar to that achieved in 2005 even after allowing for higher growth in marketing spend and higher pension costs, " he said.

Data sourced from The Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff