Corby Distilleries has posted a rise in fiscal year earnings, but a slight dip in Q4. The Canadian spirits company saw earnings in its Q4 fall thanks to a drop in earnings from the Tia Maria Group, a C$600,000 provision for inventory obsolescence and a C$200,000 increase in expense related to Cobry's share appreciation rights plan.

In a press release, Corby said that net income was C$7.7m, or C$1.08 a share, in the fourth quarter to 31 August, down from C$10.1m, or C$1.43 a share, for the same period last year. Sales rose to C$26.5m, however, from C$24.9m.

Total operating costs were higher in the latest quarter, while equity earnings from Tia Maria Group were C$300,000 versus C$1.3m, with the year-ago contribution reflecting tax recoveries.

In the full year, Corby's net income was C$32.5m, or C$4.58 a share, versus C$28.4m or C$4.01 a share, and sales were C$102m versus C$92.3m.

Corby said it increased its operating revenue through core volume growth, favourable product mix and additional bottling contracts. It said its net operating revenue, consisting of net sales revenue and commission income, increased by C$9.8m to C$118.7m in fiscal 2004. This increase was driven by 3% growth in the sales of Corby's owned brands and a C$6.5m increase in contract bottling revenue generated at its blending and bottling plant in Montreal. As a result, Corby's earnings from operations increased more than 4% for the year.

The distiller also said that its board has declared a 10% increase in the quarterly dividend, to 55 Canadian cents a share. The increased dividend will be payable on 15 November to shareholders or record on 29 October.

Corby's portfolio of owned brands includes Wiser's DeLuxe and Special Blend rye whiskies, Lamb's rum and Polar Ice vodka. Through its affiliation with Allied Domecq, Corby also represents brands such as Canadian Club rye whisky, Ballantine's scotch, Beefeater gin, Malibu rum, Sauza tequila, Courvoisier cognac, and Kahlua and Tia Maria liqueurs.