Diageo Plc, the UK food and beverage group, reported a 2.7 per cent rise in annual profits yesterday. The combined beer and spirits business was the fastest growing area of the business with profits 15 per cent ahead in the year compared with a mere one percent growth at Pillsbury and six per cent at Burger King. The drinks giant, which markets Smirnoff vodka, Johnnie Walker whisky and Guinness beer, claimed that its drinks business should be able to beat the six per cent sales growth seen in the year. Group annual pre-tax profits rose to £1.815 billion ($2.63 billion) in the year to June 30. Annual sales across the group were up four per cent to £11.87 billion pounds, while the year dividend payout to shareholders was raised eightper cent to 21p a share.