Fortune Brands 4Q Profit Widens Sharply on Rising Demand

By RetailFOXBusiness

Fortune Brands (NYSE:FO) revealed a much stronger-than-expected jump in fourth-quarter, driven by across the board gains in all of its business units, as demand for its golf clubs, windows and whiskey continued to mount.

The Deerfield, Ill-based company posted net income of $85.4 million, or 55 cents a share, compared with $11.5 million, or 8 cents a share, in the same quarter last year.

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Excluding onetime items, the company earned 63 cents a share, ahead of average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of 58 cents.

Revenue for the manufacturer of distilled spirits, including Cruzan rum, Jim Beam and Sauza, climbed 5% to $1.9 billion, beating the Street’s view of $1.8 billion.

Fortune, which also makes home, security and Titleist golf products, attributed the performance to sales growth across all three of its business units.

Bruce Carbonari, Fortune’s chief executive, called 2010 an excellent year.

“We outperformed our markets, we delivered on our operational goals, and our businesses emerged from the recession in very strong positions,” he said. “In addition to this strong performance, we announced our intention to separate our three businesses in 2011 to maximize long-term value for shareholders.”

Helped by a change in the trading terms with a major customer in Australia, the company’s Beam Global spirits business continued to grow in the fourth-quarter. During the year, Maker’s Mark exceeded one million cases sold for the first time ever with another year of double-digit growth.

The company’s home and security segment continued to benefit from strong demand for Simonton windows, while double-digit gains for Titleist clubs drove sales in its golf unit.

Looking ahead, Carbonari said the company is on track to complete the proposed separation of its businesses in the second half of the year. Fortune said in December that it planned to spin off its home goods unit and sell or spin off its golf unit.

The company said the process is slated to close in the second half of 2011.

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