Corporate cocktails

Pernod Ricard's liquor empire

Good morning, vintage visionaries. This is your Stock Market Rundown for March 22nd, 2024. Thank you so much for being here. Let’s get into it:

TODAY’S TOP STORY: ALCOHOL ACQUISITION ARTISTRY

The next time you’re making an espresso martini using Absolut vodka and Kahlúa coffee liqueur, pause a moment before knocking it back to think of the multi-billion-dollar corporation that provided the ingredients: Pernod Ricard. 

The company makes some of the best-known brands in spirits, including Beefeater Gin, Jameson Irish Whiskey, and dozens of others that have been responsible for many a memorable night and excruciating hangover. 

The roots of the business date back to 1805, when Swiss distiller Henri-Louis  Pernod began selling absinthe, a wormwood-based liqueur rumored to cause hallucinations. A later entrepreneur, Paul Ricard, introduced an anise aperitif that became wildly popular in France.

In 1974, the competitors merged. (And they do still make absinthe, though it’s reportedly much less potent than the 19th century version.) Since then they’ve been on an acquisition tear, rolling up top brands globally—everything from Wyborowa vodka to Jacob’s Creek wine. 

While Pernod Ricard management forecast a weak 2024 due to soft consumer demand, decent growth is likely in the long term. China and India have become key markets, providing billions of new potential boozers over the next few decades.

If you want to try a cocktail using products from Pernod-Ricard’s portfolio, how about a Tropical Sunset? Combine an ounce each of Malibu coconut liqueur and Havana Club rum, with half an ounce of Beefeater gin. Shake and serve. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and a 3% dividend yield.

What do you think? Chat with me in the comments:

SO WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?
  • The porcine squeals will be silenced in Chicago, where Tyson is shutting down a plant that slaughters nine thousand pigs a day, due to flagging demand. Apparently Americans are shunning bacon and sausage to eat kale and lentils.

  • Foot Locker can’t outrun slow growth in the sneaker market—its stock is lagging behind peers as it forecast 2024 results below expectations.

  • A banker at Citigroup was suspended after shouting insults at staff and complaining about analysts not working on Saturdays. This isn’t the 90s, boomer… you can’t treat junior staff like your personal punching bag for stress relief. Try therapy.

  • When you see a headline about a 92-year-old billionaire, you expect it to be an obituary. But not when that billionaire is Rupert Murdoch: he’s getting married (again). Personally, if I had enough ex-wives to field a curling team, I might pass on another try.

And that's a wrap for the week, friends. Make sure to tune in first thing Monday morning for more of the usual nonsense. Yours in capitalism, The Axe

 PS: how am I doing? I value your feedback, and I read every email, so hit reply and say hello — I’d love to hear from you.

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