At its AGM yesterday (28 July), chairman of Brown-Forman, Owsley Brown II, told shareholders that the company was enjoying a very strong start to the 2006 fiscal year.

However, Brown added that the net effect of the expected sale of its Lenox subsidiary and the loss of the distribution rights for the Glenmorangie brand group, combined with the absence of the fiscal 2005 one-time gain on the sale of the company's investment in Glenmorangie, would offset underlying robust growth in its drinks operations.

Brown also told shareholders that the fiscal year to the end of April had been "a record-breaking year", with earnings per share rising by 21% to US$2.52, and flagship brand, Jack Daniel's, registering volume gains for the 13th consecutive year.

The AGM, which was also addressed by incoming CEO Paul C. Varga, also re-elected all 13 members of the company's board and approved a regular quarterly cash dividend of 24.50 cents per share on Class A and Class B Common Stock, which will be payable to all shareholders of record as of 8 September on 1 October.