PARIS, April 18 (Reuters) – French spirits maker Pernod Ricard, which is being targeted by activist investor Elliott, said it was now expecting annual profit growth at the top end of its expectations, despite a slowdown in sales growth in the third quarter.

Pernod, which owns Mumm champagne, Absolut vodka and Martell cognac, said that for its 2019 financial year it was now targeting an organic rise of around 8 percent in profit from recurring operations, at the top of its guidance of 6-8 percent growth given back in February.

Pernod also reported sales on Thursday of 2.003 billion euros ($2.26 billion) in the three months to March 31, a 2.5 percent rise on a like-for-like basis, yet marking a slowdown from 5.6 percent growth