Diageo has maintained its profit forecast after reporting a 7% increase in third quarter net sales this morning, driven by strong US and Asian demand. The group said that trading for the nine months to March 2008 had been in line with expectations and that it expected a 9% growth in annual operating profit. Paul Walsh, chief executive of Diageo, said: “Trading in the third quarter continued in line with the first half and we are therefore maintaining our guidance for 9% organic operating profit growth for the current fiscal year. “We continue to believe that the diversity and strength of our brands, the success of our marketing campaigns, our superior routes to market and our global reach will be key in delivering our performance.” The company said that it had seen net assets reduced from £4.2bn in June 2007 to £3.9bn in March 2008 as a result of its continued share buy back programme and the payment of dividends.