Diageo, the drinks company that owns brands such as Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Baileys and Guinness, has reported a 16% increase in half-year profits.

Profit before tax for the six months ended 31 December period came in at £2.1bn, up from £1.7bn in the same period a year earlier.

The company attributed the growth to a 15% rise in global net sales and an improved performance in the US market.

"We have delivered a strong set of results with broad based improvement in both organic volume and top line growth and this positive momentum demonstrates continued effective execution of our strategy," Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes said in a statement.

"Highlights this half include improved performance in our US spirits business and across our scotch portfolio, driven by our focus on marketing with impact, innovating at scale, expanding our route to consumer, and winning in reserve."

Diageo said the weakness in the pound following the UK's vote to leave the European Union had favourably impacted its earnings to the tune of £1.4bn.

The firm added that it had increased its interim dividend by 5% to 23.7 pence per share.