Brown-Forman has posted record sales for its fiscal year, driven by a strong performance in its international markets.

The US-based company, whose brands include Jack Daniel's whiskey and Finlandia vodka, said today (5 June) that net sales in the 12 months to the end of April climbed by 17% year-on-year to US$3.28bn. Operating profit increased by 14% to $685m, while net profit followed suit, up 13% to $439.8m.

For the fourth quarter, Brown-Forman saw sales climb by 12% to $772.3m, resulting in operating profit rising by 25% to $135.4m. Net profit in the quarter soared by 48% to $99.1m.

Net profit for the quarter was positively impacted by a lower effective tax rate resulting from the effective settlement of various tax uncertainties. "These settlements resulted in the reversal of previously established tax reserves, providing an incremental $0.04 in earnings per diluted share compared to the same period last year," the company said.

For the full-year, the company credited higher consumer demand for Jack Daniel's, Jack Daniel's & Cola, and Finlandia Vodka, particularly outside the US, and excellent growth in the US for Gentleman Jack for the operating profit rise. Higher costs, including grain, grapes, and fuel, partially offset these gains, however.

"Fiscal 2008 was another excellent year for our company, particularly considering the difficult macro-economic conditions under which these results were achieved," said company CEO Paul Varga. "Building on this strong foundation, in fiscal 2009 the company projects diluted earnings per share to fall within a range of $3.73 to $3.98, representing growth of 5% to 12% and operating income to grow in the range of 3% to 10% for the year."

The company has factored into the forecast expectations for "continued solid international growth", improving trends for both Jack Daniel's and Southern Comfort and "healthy growth" from the Casa Herradura brands in the US, expectations for a higher effective tax rate, as well as anticipated increases in fuel and raw material costs.