Brown-Forman Corporation has reported a 46% rise in diluted earnings from continuing operations for the first quarter of the current fiscal year. Earnings per share for the first quarter increased from US$0.49 to US$0.71.

First-quarter results for the US drinks producer, however, were favourably affected by a net increase in global trade inventories and the consideration received from the buyout of the company's distribution rights for the Glenmorangie family of brands, while the first-quarter results last year had benefited from profits associated with a new product introduction.

The company said that, adjusted for these items, earnings per share from continuing operations rose by 19% in the first quarter to 31 July.

Earnings growth was driven by continued strong consumer demand for the company's major brands, Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, Southern Comfort, and Finlandia Vodka. Jack Daniel's volumes were up by 9% in the 12-month period to the end of the first quarter, the company said.

Sales rose by 14%, while gross profits were up by 20% for the quarter. Advertising and promotion investments were up by 17% to US$11m, the company said.

"First-quarter results were strong and reflect the benefits from the consistent brand building we've done with our portfolio in an environment that is conducive to our investments," said Brown-Forman's CEO, Paul Varga. "We remain encouraged about our growth prospects, and for the full fiscal year, we expect earnings in the range of US$2.70 to US$2.80 per share from continuing operations."