Brown-Forman Doubles 4Q Profit as Jack Daniel's Soars

Spirits maker Brown-Forman (NYSE:BFA) more than doubled its fourth-quarter profit after it drained operating costs by divesting several wine brands and improved sales with the help of Jack Daniel's popularity.

The Louisville, KY-based maker of Southern Comfort and Jack Daniel's brewed up net income of $165.4 million, or $1.13 a share, up 128% from $72.7 million, or 49 cents, a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were looking for earnings of just 64 cents.

Sales climbed 8% to $791.3 million from $733 million a year ago, beating the Streets view of $731.9 million.

Paul Varga, the companys chief executive, said he was pleased with the results and strategic progress made in 2011.

Brown-Forman continued to implement strategic initiatives, most notably portfolio changes and route-to-consumer enhancements, which we believe will position our brands and company for enduring success, he said.

Leading the results last year was the Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey Family, which grew sales 10%, along with el Jimador and super premium brands Herradura, Sonoma-Cutrer, Chambord Liqueur, Chambord Vodka, Woodford Reserve and Tuaca. Those gains offset weaker sales from Southern Comfort and Finlandia.

Looking ahead, Brown-Forman said it expects the global economic environment and consumer trends to continue to improve in 2012, though it warned that uncertainties still remain.

The company set its fiscal 2012 guidance range between $3.45 and $3.85 a share. Analysts are expecting a profit of $3.68.