Fortune Brands has reported an 11% fall in group sales for the third quarter of 2009, but sales at drinks arm Beam Global Spirits & Wine were flat against the year before.

Ongoing decline in Fortune Brands' golf and housing businesses saw group net sales for the three months to the end of September slip by 11% to US$1.72bn, compared to the same period a year earlier, the firm said today (23 October).

However, Beam Global Spirits & Wine, reported sales slightly ahead of the previous year, at US$636.9m from $636.3m.

"Spirits sales were flat in the quarter, benefiting from higher sales of Jim Beam bourbon and Canadian Club whisky, the Cruzan acquisition, and strong growth in emerging markets, offset by soft results in other international markets," said Fortune Brands CEO and chairman Bruce Carbonari.

Spirits sales dropped by 2% for the first nine months of the year, to $1.72bn, as a recovery in the third quarter failed to fully offset declines in the first six months of 2009.

Fortune's third quarter net profits plunged 63% to $125m, partly as a result of a one-off gain in the same period of last year, as well as restructuring costs. Operating profits fell by 20% in the quarter, to $204.5m, but by only 2% for the nine months, to $458m.

Fortune predicted full-year earnings per share are likely to be between US$2.1 and $2.3, against a previous range of $2 to $2.3, thanks to stabilisation in the US house-building market.

For the full announcement, click here.

An update, following the company's conference call, appears here.