Brown-Forman has reported a healthy lift in operatng profit for its second quarter, thanks in part to its purchase of Casa Herrdura.

The US-based company said today (29 November) that operating profit in the three months to the end of October rose by 16% year-on-year, to US$212.6m. Sales in the period climed 23% to $893.4m, while net profit was up by a more conservative 4% to $129.5m.

For the six months to the end of October, meanwhile, operating profit was up by 13% on the corresponding period a year earlier, at $368.1m, on the back of increased sales, up 20% to $1.63bn. Net profit followed suit, although registering only a 3% lift to $224.8m.

Turning back to the quarter, Brown-Forman credited its earnings climb to double-digit international profit growth for its Jack Daniel's whiskey, Finlandia vodka and Southern Comfort brands. The acquisition of Tequila producer Casa Herradura in January, along with a weaker US dollar and "strong international consumer trends, particularly in Europe", were also highlighted as reasons for the healthy showing.

Although Southern Comfort delivered double-digit growth in the UK and South Africa, the brand delivered a low single-digit decline in the US.

The company said it will narrow the range of its full-year earnings outlook for fiscal 2008 to $3.42 to $3.54 per diluted share, representing forecasted growth of 9% to 13% on a year earlier. This outlook includes expected earnings dilution of $0.13 to $0.18 associated with the acquisition of Casa Herradura.

"Despite a more challenging environment in the US, and the company's expectation for higher energy and grain costs, this revised outlook anticipates additional foreign exchange benefits, solid underlying gross profit growth - particularly outside the US - moderating increases in operating expenses, and a lower tax rate in the second half of the fiscal year," Brown-Forman concluded.

Separately, Brown-Forman said yesterday that it plans to repurchase up to $200m of class A and class B common stock over the next 12 months. "Our board of directors authorised this action based on our company's strong balance sheet, excellent cash flows, and our commitment to creating value for our shareholders," said company CEO, Paul Varga.