Fortune brands has reported a 58% drop in full-year profit and an 11% slide in revenue, but said spirits arm Beam Global Spirits & Wine remains resilient in the recession.

Group revenue slipped to US$7.6bn for 2008, Fortune Brands said today (29 January). It reported a 19% fall in sales for the fourth quarter of the year.

Net profit slid to US$317m, down from US$762.6m in 2007, largely due to a non-cash write-down charge and the impact of an RTD tax hike in Australia, said US-based Fortune.

Chairman and CEO Bruce Carbonari said: "In the most difficult and uncertain economy in decades, we're planning for the global economy to get worse before it gets better, and we expect the challenges of 2008 to continue throughout 2009."

Beam Global Spirits & Wine, Fortune's drinks division, reported net sales growth for several brands, at a constant currency comparison and minus excise taxes. Among the top performers were Maker's Mark, Courvoisier, Knob Creek and Laphroaig, Fortune said.

Analysts expect the US spirits market to continue growing, albeit at modest rates, despite the economic downturn.

Bill Newlands, president of Beam's US business, told just-drinks today that "we will not radically change our approach".

He said the group has "seen some migration to the off-premise from the on-premise". On price, he added: "We're certainly seeing an evolution. Some [consumers] may be stepping down a price point."

Looking forward, Carbonari said: "Fortune Brands will benefit from our significant presence in the relatively recession-resistant distilled spirits category, which now provides nearly 60% of our operating income before charges. We expect the global spirits market will remain solid and that spirits will remain an affordable luxury."